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Category:    Home > Reviews > Documentary > Concert > Classic Music > School > Venezuela > El Sistema (2007/EuroArts Blu-ray)

El Sistema (2007/EuroArts Blu-ray)


Picture: B     Sound: B     Extras: C+     Documentary: B



Since the 1980s, there has been a naïve idea that you can do a music project involving children and that will change the world.  We have seen that recently with unimpressive results, no matter how sincere.  The only way to bring children and music together is through teaching the art and the new Paul Smaczy/Maria Stootmeier documentary El Sistema (2007) shows such a program in a place you’d least suspect: Caracas, Venezuela.


Yes, the home of Hugo Chavez (made infamous by many in the U.S. media, though he is rarely dealt with here) has classical music art programs gong for it the U.S. does not.  This program focuses on several of the child participants and we see one early on in a not-so-safe neighborhood discussing how bad violence is.  I believe it.  However, there is an unintended flipside that says because he listens to Classical, he should not have to be in poverty as if someone who does not should be shot.  The makers are just showing how much is being lost when the program does not exist, but it is still an item worth bringing up.  This runs 100 minutes and is well done.


The 1080i 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image is a little soft, but has good color and the shooting is decent throughout.  The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) lossless 5.1 mix shows the limits of the recoding, especially when music is being played and I was surprised a documentary had such a lossless soundtrack, but it is still better than the PCM 2.0 Stereo also included.  Just don’t expect the best sound found on EuroArts’ best Blu-rays.  Extras include a booklet inside the Blu-ray case, four trailers for other EuroArts Blu-ray releases and a making-of featurette.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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