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Category:    Home > Reviews > Documentary > History > Cities > War > TV Mini-Series > Venice Revealed + World War I In Color (Athena/Acorn DVD Sets)

Venice Revealed + World War I In Color (Athena/Acorn DVD Sets)


Picture: C+/C     Sound: C+     Extras: C+     Episodes: B/C+



Acorn is back with two more releases from their Athena series and they are continuances of similar releases before, if not part of actual series.  Venice Revealed is a TV Mini-Series hosted by expert Peter Ackroyd in four parts that explores the city as much and more than an episode of the Visions series ever could.  You can read more about the Visions series beginning with some of its releases on Blu-ray at this link:





Ackroyd breaks down the examination into The City as…  Architecture, Art, Music and Theatre.  It is everything you could ask about the place and then some, but as excellent and rich as his examination is, I still felt it was a bit like a complex travelogue and as a fan, Ackroyd is not going to get into too much of its dark side.  However, he does not cover up every dark edge and it is worth seeing if you have the patience, interest and attention span.


Kenneth Branagh narrates World War I In Color and the immediate problem is that color film hardly existed at the time, so the six episodes featured have colorized footage throughout and though the history is priceless, its presentation is highly questionable and that makes watching this very trying unless you can somehow overcome the subtle rewriting of history.  The series works best in its newly taped footage, but that is all.  This should not have to be colorized for people to watch it, but that is what these otherwise credible people have done and I am not impressed.



The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image in both cases originate in what looks like 1080i High Definition video, so both have detail limits, aliasing, slight staircasing and general softness, but the Venice footage looks good, especially when flaws subside.  War looks bad when the 1.33 X 1 black and white footage is colorized and cut to 1.78 X 1, making the footage look ugly.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo is just fine for documentary works, with little in the way of monophonic archival audio.  The Venice show is virtually all new, while the War footage is silent.  At least they decided not to call that series World War I In Sound, but bad sound effects are added to the footage just the same.


Extras with both include a booklet and text biographies, while War adds the 50-minutes-long special War & Tactics and a 15-minutes Making Of featurette.  Venice adds a list of feature films shot in there and exclusive web extras.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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