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Category:    Home > Reviews > Documentary > Travelogue > Visions Of Italy set

Visions Of Italy (Special Interest)


Picture: B-     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


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