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Blu-ray Review: Belfast

March 1, 2022

By John Corrado

Kenneth Branagh’s Belfast is one of the main players this awards season, and Universal is releasing the TIFF People’s Choice Award winner (a laurel that is proudly displayed on the front cover) on Blu-ray this week.

Nominated for seven Academy Awards (including Best Picture), Branagh’s film is based on his own childhood in Belfast, showing The Troubles in Northern Ireland through the eyes of a young boy, Buddy (Jude Hill).

This is a film that I enjoyed quite a bit, and one that grew on me even more after a second viewing. It features wonderful performances by Caitriona Balfe and Jamie Dornan as Buddy’s parents, as well as Judi Dench and Ciaran Hinds (both Oscar-nominated for their supporting roles) as his grandparents.

The bittersweet nature of Belfast is further heightened by the black-and-white cinematography, as well as a nice soundtrack of songs from Belfast’s own Van Morrison, including the Oscar-nominated original tune “Down to Joy” that memorably opens the movie. The film made my own list of the best movies of last year, and it’s one that I hope more people check out on Blu-ray, especially older audiences who may not have been as comfortable seeing it in theatres due to the pandemic.

For more on the film itself, you can read my full review from TIFF right here.

Bonus Features (Blu-ray):

The Blu-ray comes with a handful of bonus features, most notable the alternate ending that Branagh brought up in some Q&As. A code for a digital copy is also included in the package.

Alternate Ending featuring Kenneth Branagh (5 minutes, 36 seconds): Kenneth Branagh returns to modern day Belfast in this substantially longer sequence that was originally supposed to end the film. It’s interesting to see on its own terms, and I’m glad it’s included on the disc. But it goes on too long, and wouldn’t have worked at all in the movie. The ending he ultimately went with leaves way more of an impact. Viewable with and without commentary by Branagh.

• Deleted Scenes (2 minutes, 44 seconds): A trio of short scenes cut from the film. The last one, showing Buddy’s mum at the fish and chips shop where she works, does flesh out the world of the film a bit more. Viewable with and without commentary by Branagh.

A City of Stories: The Making of Belfast (9 minutes, 47 seconds): Branagh and the cast talk about their personal connections to the story and growing up in Ireland. The second half of the featurette offers an interesting but all too brief overview of how they recreated the streets of Belfast on sound stages, as well as the film’s period-authentic costume design.

Everyone’s Inner Child (1 minute, 54 seconds): Branagh and several cast members share childhood memories such as least favourite food and favourite toy in this brief puff piece.

Feature Commentary with Writer/Director Kenneth Branagh

Belfast is a Universal Pictures Home Entertainment release. It’s 98 minutes and rated PG.

Street Date: March 1st, 2022

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