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Category:    Home > Reviews > Classical > Documentary > Religion > Messiah (1999)

Messiah (DVD-Video)


Picture: B-†††† Sound: B†††† Extras: D†††† Film: A-



Handelís Messiah is certainly one of the most familiar of all compositions, and you can read even more of my detailed review for the DVD audio elsewhere on this site.This particular DVD release from Koch is a visual interpretation film by William Klein (known mostly for his work on another terrific project - Muhammed Ali: The Greatest) that takes Handelís Messiah and tells itís narrative through modern images and other juxtapositions.This makes for a very clever and interesting sit-through, with some great music conducted by Marc Minkowksi.What I particularly love is that the story of Christ is unfolded, while images of manís cruelty towards fellow man is demonstrated on screen.This is done purely out of a deeper attempt to understand or even contradict mans very nature.I canít help but even think of Alex in A Clockwork Orange as he envisions his pornographic interpretations from The Bible.


This is by far one of the oddest DVD image transfers that I have seen, so Iíll attempt to explain.If you play the disc on a 4X3 set you will get very displeasing results as the image, which on the package says is 16X9(aka 1.78 X 1)/1.66 X 1, which is fine, but the problem is that on a 4X3 set the image actually appears to fill the entire frame and the image looks un-squeezed therefore the picture looks really thin.Odd?Well, it gets even crazier.On a 16 X 9 TV set upon first look it seems as though the problem has automatically corrected itself as the image fills the entire screen, but upon more careful review it would seem that itís still the same 4X3 image, but now itís being stretched out to 16X9 and now those thin images are now regular and normal looking.So what does this mean?I wish I knew!I am not sure where the problem occurred and if we are missing picture information, but what I can tell you is that it looks much better in 16X9 and is clearly the way to view this program.Those with 4X3 sets will find it annoying after only a few minutes.


In 16X9 playback the image actually is quite good with sharp lines, good color detail, and demonstrates some terrific footage.I am actually quite impressed that a special interest title such as this looks as good as it does.This is not to say that itís perfect, but simply higher than expectations, which is always a great thing.The Dolby Digital 5.1 is surprisingly strong and makes me wonder what this program would have been like if mixed for DTS 5.1.One can only wish that this would have been the case, but this is a rare case of a strong and prominent Dolby 5.1 mix that is more surround active than most listeners might expect at first.Often times these Dolby mixes are forward heavy, but not the case here.There is also a 2.0 Dolby Digital stereo mix that works fairly well, but does not have the power and fullness as the 5.1 counterpart.There is a much fuller range of bass management happening in the 5.1 mix as well, which truly helps the material since we have classical music, which does require a great full range of ability in order to accurately capture the experience.


I am quite taken back by this particular title with some mixed feelings towards it.I am usually very keen to visual journeys that are accompanied by music such as Koyaanisqatsi or Baraka and the other slew of audio/visual experiences, but this is one of the few that tells such a unique narrative that is something obvious, but also leaves you thinking.The compiled footage is also particularly strong and truly makes this a great experience regardless of your thoughts towards it.A must experience DVD!



-†† Nate Goss


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