Visions Of Italy (Special Interest)
Sound: C+ Extras: B- Episodes: B
Acorn Media and WLIW, one of New York’s Public TV outlets,
continue their series of special interest tour/travelogue DVDs with Visions
Of Italy (2001 - 2002), a double DVD set that offers more material than
their single-DVD Visions Of Greece (2002, reviewed elsewhere on this
site). It too is a two-part program
that shoots every possible name location in that ancient world survivor with
what was then the best High Definition digital video they could get their hands
on. Like its predecessor, the result is
comprehensive and goes further with a second Visions Of Sicily volume.
The first episode of the Italy volume covers
Northern Italy in Northern Style, leaving Southern Style the
latter remainder show. Again, the
camera goes wild all over the place form constant sky shots capturing the
“nooks and crannies” of the country. We
again see all the lands and all of its structures, but I now conclude since the
Greece DVD that it is a problem that we eventually do not get more up
close. From these distances, we cannot
see enough people or get more personally involved, even more so an issue when
all the material runs 240 minutes total.
That is four hours, but for some reason, this is all more effective for
some odd reason.
I love both countries, but this set simply goes further in
a way that goes beyond having more time and more disc space. Again, the more you get into either of the
programs or discs, the better it gets.
The food is different for each region, but this is simply not a series
of shows about food. That might have
been a great idea for a bonus program on the Sicily volume, as food
looks great when shot in High Definition too.
With that said, they do talk about Italian food often. Maybe that is why Acorn has an Italian
Americans set being issued at the very same time. You can find it elsewhere on this site.
The anamorphically enhanced 16 X 9/1.78 X 1 image has some
detail troubles for whatever reason, but is a bit better than Visions Of
Greece in that details department and the color is also very nice
throughout. On the non-anamorphic,
similarly framed extra footage, detail is a larger issue and it is odd that it
would not get the same treatment. The
sound is Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo throughout and has no surround information,
despite another really pleasant music score.
For a recent production, that is odd.
James Bond fans will enjoy the HD footage of the Cortina Ski Jump
footage (minus snow) as featured in For Your Eyes Only (1981) still
standing two decades after the film was made, in the Northern Style
supplement. That segment runs just over
20 minutes. Islands and seasides are
among the highlights in the Southern Style section that runs 25:40. The extra footage on the Sicily disc
runs 23:21 and it should be noted that unlike the main hour-long features,
these extra footage sections are only accompanied by music, not narration.
Recently, while at a major electronics chain store, there
HDTV section was showing samples of various HD programming. Suddenly, footage from Visions Of Greece
appeared. It looked good, but even
then, my expectations of details were not quite met. This is simply early digital HD and is still nice to see, but
these DVDs are not as far from the HD source as first thought. It is just HD is not film, so anyone
interested in the Visions Of series should consider looking into these,
but especially this Visions Of Italy set. The Greece set may be cheaper, but this set is a better
start. You make the choice.
- Nicholas Sheffo