The Childhood of a Leader is a bizarre film set in an alternate world where the Third Reich, as we know it, aren’t going to come to power one day, but they may as well do.
Set in France, 1918, young Prescott (a promising newcomer in Tom Sweet) makes his presence and opinion felt by throwing rocks at those involved in a play rehearsal, showing his divisive opinion a la Piers Morgan, partly because he’s feeling stifled by his intransigent parents, played by Liam Cunningham and Bérénice Bejo, who are infrequently visited by Charles (Robert Pattinson), a journalist whose wife died while travelling with him.
The day job of the father is working for the US government, helping create the Treaty of Versailles, although he just tells the lad that he’s a helper to the US President. Alas, that’s like trying to tell the current incumbent what to do – you know they won’t listen and they’ll go their own sweet way (name puns not intended).
The problem with The Childhood of a Leader is that it never feels like it gets going. Prescott has a couple of tantrums but never looks like he’s going to go full-on Hitler. I thought this film could go either way from the trailer, but it was so long-winded in its execution. In fact, the trailer was specifically made in a more upbeat style, so if you’re in two minds about watching this, check out the trailer below, first.
The film is presented in the original 2.35:1 widescreen theatrical ratio and is in 1080p high definition, and has some slight grain on it, but then it was shot on 35mm film stock rather than digital, so I’d put any issues down to the filming process rather than the disc itself.
The sound is in 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio and as it’s a drama, there aren’t any split-surround moments, but then fans of this film will enjoy Scott Walker’s score.
There’s only a few extras, but ones that those who enjoyed the movie will want to get stuck into:
- Protect You + Me (9:52): A weird short film from the director, filmed in 2008, about a bad experience in a restaurant, but not in the way you’d imagine.
- Theatrical Trailer (1:31): In the original 1.66:1 widescreen ratio.
- Other trailers (6:14): Paterson – starring The Force Awakens‘ Adam Driver, and which I definitely want to see; the superb Remainder (review now online), and The Crow Road, recently re-relased on Blu-ray, but one I still haven’t seen although I’ve heard a lot of great things about it.
- Isolated score: composed by Scott Walker.
- Audio commentary: from director Brady Corbet.
The menu is a static shot of the cast with a piece of the theme behind it, there are a bog-standard 12 chapters and subtitles are in English. Like a number of Nordic Noir dramas, the language spoken can often change within a piece of dialogue from one character while they’re speaking, so to avoid missing anything, I’d recommend keeping them on.
Running time: 116 minutes
Distributor: Soda Pictures
Released: January 30th 2017
Picture: 1080p High Definition
Sound: 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, DTS 5.1, Dolby Digital 5.1
Language: English (plus some French and German dialogue)
Widescreen: 2.35:1 (35mm)
Disc Format: BD50
Director: Brady Corbet
Producers: Chris Coen, Brady Corbet, Helena Danielsson, Antoine de Clermont-Tonnerre and István Major
Screenplay: Brady Corbet and Mona Fastvold
Music: Scott Walker
The Father: Liam Cunningham
The Mother: Bérénice Bejo
Prescott, the boy: Tom Sweet
Charles: Robert Pattinson
Edith: Rebecca Dayan
Mr. Advisors Secretary: Caroline Boulton
Laura: Sophie Curtis
Older Foreign Gentleman: Luca Bercovici
The Maid: Yolande Moreau
Economist: Michael Epp
Counselor: Scott Alexander Young
Older American Gentleman: Roderick Hill
Mr. Deputy: Jeremy Wheeler
The priest: Jacques Boudet
Mr. Secretary: Andrew Osterreicher
The Teacher: Stacy Martin
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.