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Category:    Home > Reviews > Documentary > Harley Davidson - Unofficial History

The Unauthorized History of Harley-Davidson Motorcycles


Picture: C     Sound: C+      Extras: D     Program: B-



On Harley-Davidson’s 100th Anniversary, we have two DVDs to cover in one week.  First, there was the History Channel’s Hog Heaven, and now there is Eagle Media’s The Unauthorized History of Harley-Davidson Motorcycles.  Though the program is from 1990, and runs about an hour, it is as strong as the material on the competing DVD.  Originally announced as Harley-Davidson: The Legend, this program is the most personal look at the vehicle and the fans that keep it going.


Besides doing the best job of deconstructing the myth that only angry, dirty, lower social-economic, violent radicals who kill are the only fan base for the make, it shows how vital the bike became as a world innovator, has been actually a big staple of law-enforcement and military use, and has been produced in many, many models that break from the stereotype of what Harley is iconically thought of as being.


The best part of this, which is not long enough in this program and should have been extended massively for this DVD, are detailed examinations of each model.  We see the varying designs and functions of each of the classic bikes featured.  It is intelligible, fun, and digs into just how cutting edge the brand has always been.  Though the History Channel version notes the various models, it does not go beyond that.  Of course, this only scratches the surface of one of the great American companies.


It even feels like it is reporting more of the details of behind the scenes of the business, something that The History Channel DVD failed to deliver.  That is especially with a subtitle like “The Story of the Harley-Davidson Empire” that is never delivered on.  That story has yet to be told.


From the old analog, color source form 1990, the image is full screen and average.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 is a very simple stereo, with both showing their age, but the presentation is passable. 


The story told here is one of a love for the brand only an independent production could deliver.  Most programs made this long ago on videotape to no endure or date quickly.  Give or take not being able to cover bikes and events after 1990, which is why no supplements here are a problem, it is very good viewing.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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