The recent Disney Blu-ray releases including Pirates 4 and Cars 2 have gotten me pretty down about the future of the format. Slowly but surely well-compiled discs are becoming collector's items. Either you pick up the bare bones release (or download it on iTunes or rent it online or see it on Netflix…) or you pick up the 17-Disc Super Deluxe Wongo Bongo Ultra Edition 2-Pack that's stuffed with the specialty behind-the-scenes features produced in conjunction with the movie. Maybe it's a cost thing maybe it's a dying interest but when it comes to DVD extras there's no in-between.
Thankfully Disney isn't completely done cutting us off from moderate releases with The Help Blu-ray showing off an exquisite transfer along with a healthy serving of features that should interest any fan of the material. One of the reasons I thought the movie was so successful was the true-to-life replication of 1960s Mississippi realized in sharp colors and stunning production design. The Blu-ray makes it all pop too—maybe even too much for some of the scenes darker moments—but it the disc lives up to the big screen experience.
Director Tate Taylor was ingrained into the history of the original Help novel having grown up with childhood friend Kathryn Stockett (author of the book) in the town of which the story is based. His experiences and love for the source material made for a great film but also help the disc's extras to rise above your run-of-the-mill studio-produced features. Taylor has a care for the material and its origins and in the "Making of The Help" feature the director guides us through the entire process from Stockett's original conception to honing his longtime friendships with Help actresses Octavia Spencer and Allison Janney to shepherding the project to completion. Every step of the way Taylor relishes in the experience and pours his heart and soul out on screen. His challenge of stepping in to the Director role is almost has powerful as the movie itself.
Additionally the disc features a few key deleted scenes that as Taylor compassionately explains would have changed the entire tone of the movie as good as they are. Spencer and Viola Davis are already on the road to the Oscars but even the cut material is award worthy. An extra treat is a mini-documentary on the real life women who inspired the book conducted by Taylor and Spencer. It's a sweet look a the true stories behind The Help and a great annotation to the movie's narrative. Thrown in for good measure is Mary J. Blige's music video for "The Living Proof " another Help related piece of the puzzle that could pop up at the Academy Awards.
Reasonably priced discs with solid extras are a rarity but The Help proves it doesn't take that much to impress. Get a director who loves the material and let him run wild. For fans of the book movie and history in general those kind of compassionate extras go a long way.