King: A Filmed Record… Montgomery to Memphis Blu-ray review

Feb 11, 2024- Permalink

Kino Lorber sent over a new Blu-ray release of the 1970 documentary King: A Filmed Record… Montgomery to Memphis. The powerful film is a detailed record of footage from meetings, protests and rallies that traces Martin Luther King Jr.’s nonviolent campaign for civil rights and social justice. The footage starts around the time of the Montgomery bus boycott (1955-1956) and ends with MLK’s assassination in 1968. Directors Sidney Lumet and Joseph L. Mankiewicz intersperse the footage with powerful readings by Harry Belafonte, Ruby Dee, Ben Gazzara, Charlton Heston, James Earl Jones, Burt Lancaster, Paul Newman, Anthony Quinn, Clarence Williams III, and Joanne Woodward. The 3+ hour film was originally conceived as a special event film shown in theatres for one night on March 24, 1970. Since then, it has occasionally aired on TV. Released on DVD in 2010, it has now lovingly been restored by Kino Lorber and The Library of Congress and released on Blu-ray. The doc is at once inspirational, with the strength of King’s oratory and drive for justice, and horrifying, as footage shows the utter contempt and hatred of the racists in positions of power. Given the attempts by some to try and erase aspects of U.S. history, it’s an important and timely release.

<i>King: A Filmed Record… Montgomery to Memphis</i> coverart

The 1080p AVC encoded digital transfer is presented in a 1:33:1 aspect ratio. The Blu-ray upgrade gives the film footage additional detail from previous releases or TV airings and the grey scale and film grain are faithful to the original theatrical print. Some of the source material has scratches and other blemishes, but that just shows the depth of research the production had to find rare records of the events being covered in newsreels and other sources.

On the audio side of things, there is an English DTS-HD Master Audio 2,0 Mono soundtrack. Subtitles are available for English SDH. The dialogue and music are clear and though some source material might have some pops and clicks, it is a very well restored audio experience.

As for extras, the Blu-ray disc does include two theatrical trailers.

The King: A Filmed Record… Montgomery to Memphis Blu-ray is an important release. King’s message and commitment to non-violence is inspirational to those around the work pursuing justice and social change. At a time when some politicians are trying to prevent this history being taught in U.S. schools, owning a copy seems more important than ever. Highly recommended.