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Category:    Home > Reviews > Documentary > Sports > Equestrian > Seabiscuit - America's Legendary Racehorse

Seabiscuit – America’s Legendary Racehorse (Documentary)


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



One of the sleeper hits of 2003 has been the dramatic Seabiscuit film from Pleasantville director Gary Ross, reuniting with that film’s male lead, Tobey Maguire.  One program that has been very popular as a result has been Seabiscuit – America’s Legendary Racehorse, made in the same year.  It brings together the history of the wonderhorse (no pun intended, Tobey!) with stills, stock footage, and interviews with key persons in the world of horse racing then and now.


Though it only runs 51 minutes, it is a good watch, covering everything it can about the horse and the men who made the old longshot a winner.  The horse was not in the best shape to begin with before the phenomenal run.  The various men who enter the story are all characters of their own worth interesting stories to tell.  For being roughly half the length of the feature film, which itself devotes much time to being a “feel good film” to begin with, it is a fine companion worth checking out whether you have seen the film or not.


The horse lands up becoming a national phenomenon at a time when the Great Depression had kicked in, while Europe had impending doom on the way.  It is a huge surprise that this story is not better known, but horseracing has traditionally been known as a not-always-clean profession.  Visiting this rarely charted territory has added appeal.


The full-screen image was produced on current analog videotape, though there is a generous sampling of stills and vintage footage that actually survived.  Current color tape and old black and white film mix with some great shots of memorabilia of the time the horse’s glory days are a real plus.  The simple audio is PCM CD 2.0 Stereo is a nice change from the usual Dolby 1.0 or 2.0 sound and it makes watching the special more enjoyable.  The few extras include two too-brief radio clips of races featuring the legendary winner, a minute-long “slide show” that has music, and a trivia game.


Delta Entertainment, who produced the DVD, also co-produced the actual program.  This was very smart, because the dramatic film never can offer the authenticity (and certainly not the memorabilia) of the actual event.  As the feature film slowly finds more of an audience, the curiosity about this program will join it.  Fortunately, anyone who catches it will not be disappointed.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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