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Category:    Home > Reviews > Documentary > History > Muhammad Ali Made In Miami + African American Lives 2 (PBS Home Video DVD)

Muhammad Ali Made In Miami + African American Lives 2 (PBS Home Video DVD)


Picture: C+ Sound: C+ Extras: C+/D Main Programs: B



Not letting Black History Month stop it as an occasion for releasing materials about African Americans, PBS Home Video has issued two impressive volumes charting the lives of key achievers in many fields. Muhammad Ali Made In Miami gives us a new, more detailed angle on the rise and challenges of one of the most famous men on the planet, while African American Lives 2 (we missed the first one) covers the lives of some very famous people who reflect on their lives, success ands situations for better and worst in the U.S. and beyond.


The best thing about the Ali show is its minimalizing of his celebration and giant reputation just long enough to tell us more than we usually get in profiles of one of the greatest boxers of all time. It also does not get too lost on his battles with the now-defunct draft board over the troubles in Vietnam, one of the few non-parallels between then and the Bush 2 debacle in the Middle East, but we learn more intimate things and this constitutes a better profile of the man than the many (and often good) productions before this one. This runs an hour.


AAL2 features Henry Louis Gates, Jr. with an intertwining profile of everyone from Don Cheadle, Chris Rock, Tom Joyner, Maya Angelou, Morgan Freeman, Tina Turner and Jackie Joyner-Kersee to Bliss Broyard, Linda Johnson Rice, Peter Gomes and Kathleen Henderson in four parts adding up to four hour-long programs.


Both are enlightening and very well done.


The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image for both releases is documentary-like with new and old footage mixed, though the Ali disc is heavier in this respect. The new footage in both cases is shot in HD but is softer than expected in the new programs, though editing is good on both. The Dolby Digital 5.1 on Lives and 2.0 Stereo respectively in each case is simple stereo at best with some stereo music and mono sound moments. Only Ali has extras in a preview for the show and interview with he producers and how they came to make this show.



- Nicholas Sheffo


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