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Category:    Home > Reviews > Documentary > Hog Heaven (Harley Davidson)

Hog Heaven – The Story of the Harley-Davidson Empire


                                                   Picture     Sound     Extras     Program

Dream Machines - Harley Davidson   C+          C+          D              B-

Modern Marvels – Motorcycles          B-           B-           D              B



The Harley-Davidson Motorcycle Company is now one hundred years old, but that journey was far form smooth sailing.  Even recently as a few years ago, they had to get a Government loan to survive.  Nevertheless, like their tough image, the company is a survivor and the new DVD Hog Heaven – The Story of the Harley Davidson Empire helps to show how they made it.


The only problem is that there is no actual program on the DVD with that title.  Instead, The History Channel has simply paired two episodes of their more successful TV series together, including a 1998 installment of Dream Machines on the legendary motorcycle make.  It is a good program, but runs less than 50 minutes and is already a few years old.  It also shows its age in both the picture department (the analog taping is softer than what the network puts out today) and the Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo, though serviceable, has no surrounds.


The “bonus” program is form the Modern Marvels series and actually is a better show.  Running about 90 minutes, this installment of the history of the motorcycle covers many makes and models over the years, worldwide.  You se the modest early beginnings of the vehicle, its acceleration as a popular means of getting around, the setback the automobile handed it, its comeback during two World Wars, and its lasting contribution to Pop culture, as well as its legacy.  Harley-Davidson is a major player, though there is some over lap between the two show.  This one is newer, and looks clearer, while the Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo decodes well in Pro Logic.


I also enjoyed seeing the newest motorcycle breakthroughs, like the Britten.  These are both programs that could not go on long enough, but we do not learn enough about Harley Davidson.  There is certainly not enough about the company to justify the term “empire” in the title.  Not enough fans are interviewed by any stretch of the imagination.  There are no extras to show us facts about the company, there is no time line on the company, no supplement of their various print and TV commercials, no section of memorabilia of bike-related items or licensed merchandise, no sketches of how any of their classics was developed, no quiz section about the company, no filmography of features that prominently featured their bikes, and not even fan club information.


This is, however, a handy DVD that has two good shows from The History Channel on them and that’s not bad.  It should make for an interesting comparison to Eagle Media’s Harley Davidson – The Legend, when we get to that.  Either way, its great to see the company reach the century mark.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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