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    $129.98 $79.19
    1. Cosmos Boxed Set (Collector's
    $97.49 $77.63 list($129.99)
    2. The Civil War - A Film by Ken
    $112.46 $88.78 list($149.95)
    3. The World at War (30th Anniversary
    $22.46 $12.70 list($29.95)
    4. Nova - The Elegant Universe
    $139.99 list($199.92)
    5. Jazz - A Film by Ken Burns
    $59.96 $39.99 list($79.95)
    6. Victory at Sea
    $83.98 $39.95
    7. The Amos & Andy Box Set
    $74.96 $59.97 list($99.95)
    8. A History of Britain - The Complete
    $22.49 $15.78 list($29.98)
    9. Koyaanisqatsi / Powaqqatsi (2
    $18.99 $16.95 list($26.99)
    10. The Big Red One - The Reconstruction
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    11. My Architect
    $134.99 $105.15 list($149.99)
    12. Shoah
    $20.21 $15.51 list($26.95)
    13. Andy Goldsworthy's Rivers &
    $44.99 $37.44 list($59.99)
    14. Broadway - The American Musical
    $14.99 $14.86 list($19.98)
    15. Baraka (Special Collector's Edition)
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    16. Hoop Dreams - Criterion Collection
    $161.99 $109.96 list($179.99)
    17. Jazz - A Film By Ken Burns
    $45.82 $43.68 list($59.98)
    18. The Complete Walking with... Collection
    $71.96 $48.02 list($79.95)
    19. Vietnam - A Television History
    $89.96 $62.67 list($99.95)
    20. Evolution Boxed Set

    1. Cosmos Boxed Set (Collector's Edition)
    list price: $129.98
    our price: $129.98
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: B000055ZOB
    Catlog: DVD
    Sales Rank: 912
    Average Customer Review: 4.75 out of 5 stars
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    Amazon.com

    When Cosmos was first broadcast in 1980, our world--and the context of Carl Sagan's eloquent "personal journey"--was a different place. The late Dr. Sagan would be pleased to witness the cooling of the cold war, the continued exploration of space, and ongoing efforts to curb our destructive dependence on fossil fuels. For Sagan's series is far more than a guided tour through "billions and billions" of stars and galaxies. It remains a profound plea for the unity of humankind, for the recognition that "we are a way for the universe to know itself," with an obligation to know our origin, our place in the universe, and our future potential.

    In the course of 13 fascinating hours, Cosmos spans its own galaxy of topics to serve Sagan's theme, each segment deepening our understanding of how we got from there (simple microbes in the primordial mud) to here (space-faring civilization in the 21st century). In his "ship of the imagination," Sagan guides us to the farthest reaches of space and takes us back into the history of scientific inquiry, from the ancient library of Alexandria to the NASA probes of our neighboring planets. Upon this vast canvas Sagan presents the "cosmic calendar," placing the 15-billion-year history of the universe into an accessible one-year framework, then filling it with a stunning chronology of events, both interstellar and earthbound.

    From the lives of the stars, to creation theories, functions of the human brain, and the ongoing search for extraterrestrial intelligence, Cosmos asks big questions. When appropriate, Sagan offers big answers, or asks still bigger--and yes, even spiritual--questions at the boundaries of science and religion. What's most remarkable about Cosmos is that it remains almost entirely fresh, with few updates needed to the science that Sagan so passionately celebrates. It is no exaggeration to say that Cosmos--for all the debate it may continue to provoke--is a vital document for humanity at a pivotal crossroads of our history. --Jeff Shannon ... Read more

    Reviews (134)

    5-0 out of 5 stars science, the history of science, and its role in the future
    It amazes me that to this day that no science series since Cosmos first aired has come close to illustrating both the scope of human knowledge and its practical purposes in our lives. Every parent with a DVD player should buy this if their children have the slightest interest in the sciences. Your kids will thank you when they're older. Carl Sagan must've had a talent for teaching as any intelligent young student will get something out this series. Cosmos ages well, serving as a springboard into other disciplines.

    Watching the series again on DVD, I enjoyed the less-hard science episodes. All thirteen are great. I especially liked:

    "The Harmony of Worlds"
    "The Backbone of Night"
    "The Lives of Stars"
    "The Persistence of Memory"
    "Enyclopedia Galactica"
    "Who Speaks for Earth"

    Each of these episodes is rich with history and gives me a new respect for the man as a speaker. Especially the last episode, though somewhat dated as it was written during the Cold War. The sound quality's excellent too.

    Note: Science changes so fast, some of the updates may be 'out of date'. The final update, in light of current events, where Dr. Sagan expresses optimism for the future, well it's a bit chilling.

    5-0 out of 5 stars A Vision for All Mankind
    After watching COSMOS for the third time, I am continously impressed by the bravery and insight of Dr. Sagan's vision for humanity. COSMOS's overarching theme is an introduction to the natural sciences for the general public. Astronomy, Biology, Chemistry and Mathematics are wonderfully reduced to their core concepts. Dr. Sagan may be the only person I know who manages to explain Einstein's special relativity without algebra. For those amongst the general public who wish to understand just what a four dimensioned universe is, there is no better series today than COSMOS. Dr. Sagan stays true to his populist belief that science belongs not only to the scientists, but to all humanity.

    However, anyone with a university degree will probably be familiar with the science Dr. Sagan speaks of. The shining jewel of COSMOS is not its scientific content, but its deeply humanistic message of hope. We have all heard about the cruelty of the so called "real world" and "human nature." But Dr. Sagan shows us that human bravery and intelligence has transformed our world for the better and that our world is what we make of it. In one of the most poignant moments of the entire series, Dr. Sagan describes the human longing for an explanation of the universe as an eternal part of our species. We, citizens of the 21st century, are the first generation of human beings priviledged with some of the answers to the questions that have fascinated our ancestors.

    Dr. Sagan also outlines the philosophy and history of science. This is especially essential to today's society in which science has become increasing gadgety. While cell phones, computers, the internet, designer drugs populate every segment of our society, the philosophy of critical thinking, factual analysis and of questioning every statement, the very heart of science remains as rare today as ever. Our present civlization is forever indebited to those brave men and women who choose the pain of truth rather the comfort of lies. For those who ever wondered how we human beings progressed from tribal hunters to technogical beings, Dr. Sagan's documentary provides a riveting account.

    Finally and perhaps most importantly, Dr. Sagan's documentary provides a unifying vision for the future of human kind. We have reached a time in the development of our species when the power in our hands is extraordinary. The destiny of our world and our species is fully in the our own hands. We can either use this power to continously squabble amongst ourselves, to fight our pointless wars and to poison our environment with blatant waste and race headlong to self annihilation, or... we can set aside our differences, recognize the fragility of our world and embrace the common destiny of humanity to explore the final frontier. Dr. Sagan does not pretend that this journey will be an easy one; every age and time has had those who would at the expense of our world, stirr up hatred, fear and greed. However, by showing that science is our candle in the dark, Dr. Sagan encourages each one of us to struggle against the irrationality and ignorance inside each of us to literally reach for the stars.

    From the beginning of time to the future of our world, Dr. Sagan's account of the struggle of the human mind to attain sentience is highly passionate while at the same time even and objective. Science, he describes, is the ultimate manifestation of our humanity, the quest of starstuff to understand itself.

    I am pleased to say that as the light from Dr. Sagan's house continue to pierce the darkness of Ithaca's gorges to inspire me, so too does his visionary work: COSMOS.

    5-0 out of 5 stars the best science documentrary
    This is prehaps the most inspiring documentary about the earth and our place within the universe. I have seen the series about a dozen times and its just as interesting each and every time. This would be great material for children learning about the world around them..

    +Fred

    5-0 out of 5 stars Very Excellent!
    A little expensive but very cool. Carl Sagan was the first man to break the sound barrier and this is his story. Carl also was a swimming contender in the 1968 Mexico Olympics but he felt the sting of defeat and didn't win diddley. We don't like losers, Carl. A famous scientist, Carl died of cancer some years ago because he didn't eat his broccoli. If only he's gone to Denny's every Thursday for their cream of broccoli soup, he would still be alive today.

    3-0 out of 5 stars Portuguese Subtitles ??
    More than 250.000.000 people in the world speak Portuguese. Why didn't they made subtitles in portuguese language for Cosmos? I hope that in the next edition, this problema will be solved. How can we show this DVD for children and teens who doesn't speak english yet? This is my only complain about. ... Read more


    2. The Civil War - A Film by Ken Burns
    list price: $129.99
    our price: $97.49
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: B0002KPI2S
    Catlog: DVD
    Sales Rank: 679
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    3. The World at War (30th Anniversary Edition)
    list price: $149.95
    our price: $112.46
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: B0002F6AH0
    Catlog: DVD
    Sales Rank: 876
    Average Customer Review: 4.63 out of 5 stars
    US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

    Reviews (75)

    5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent Series
    When investing in any DVD, especially a boxed set, you might ponder the question, "How often will I watch this?" Let me say that your purchase of The World at War will offer you endless viewing opportunities! Besides the 26 original episodes, all of the extra features that were produced afterwards are included in the set. There is so much information generated in over 30 hours of material that you will discover something new with each repeated viewing. Each episode will hold your attention from first to last, and they are efficiently indexed so you can easily review a map or replay a speech. Along side the emotional impact of the pictorial images, you have Carl Davis' moving score, a judicious use of period music, personal accounts from all the major powers, and Sir Laurance's strong narration, making this the most comprehensive documentary on the subject. Now if we can only have World War I, narrated by Robert Ryan, available, we would have the documentary bookends to the two most devastating wars in the 20th century.

    5-0 out of 5 stars The Finest WWII Documentary Ever Produced
    For History buffs and those who have a keen, deeply felt interest in World War II beyond just the military events, the World at War, produced by Thames Television (1981) and released earlier on VHS by Thorn/EMI, is a 26 episode documentary set apart from all other documentaries about WWII. No other, with the exception of Walter Cronkite's CBS series, comes close to an unbiased, analytical perspective of a War that cost perhaps 50 million lives and took an emotional and philosophical toll we are still trying to comprehend today.

    Narrated by Sir Laurence Olivier and covering all aspects of the war, this definitive series is used by many colleges and universities as a source for History and Documentary Film courses. There is an incredible depth of archive footage used; skilfully woven with interviews of major figures in the War from Britain, US, Canada, Europe and Japan. Many major eye-witness leaders and ordinary people who were still alive in 1981 contributed sometimes surprising, sometimes incredible, and sometimes haunting interviews. Yet, for all its skilful editing and historical sophistication, it is clearly presented and emotionally compelling. In my opinion, it is, along with Kenneth Clark's "Civilisation", the best ever produced British documentary.

    What makes this a stellar and overpowering account of the War is Olivier's narration. Never blustery, patriotic, or theatrical, Sir Laurence delivers pointed, thoughtful analysis with his incredible command of English and oration. Music for the series was composed by Carl Davis and even the opening credits set an unforgettable tone in a haunting image of a child in a photograph, dissolving in flames. This series is for those trying to make sense of a 6 year period when the world went mad. Five Stars PLUS.

    4-0 out of 5 stars Very good. Probably THE documentary set to own
    This kept me going for months (in one hour segments at a time). There is so much material presented here and I learned a lot.

    I wanted to give 4.5 stars and only knock a half off for the sometimes annoying menu (it could have been presented in a more orgnaized fashion, I thought), or other small problems, but half points aren't allowed on the system. Very close to perfect!

    1-0 out of 5 stars Buyer Beware
    This was a wonderful documentary as originally broadcast, but I'd avoid this product if I had it to do over again: the maker's quality control is awful. Disk 1 skipped badly. And I the same problem others have reported: two copies of one of the five disks (with me, disk 5), and one disk (disk 4) entirely missing.

    5-0 out of 5 stars "Remember"
    This is an excellent, extensive, British-made documentary about events leading up to, and including, World War II. With 26 episodes, there is quite a bit of material covered. Excellent narration by Laurence Olivier, and a memorable score.

    If you are a war buff, particularly WW2, this is the set to have. Can't say enough good things about it. ... Read more


    4. Nova - The Elegant Universe
    Director: Joseph McMaster, Julia Cort (II)
    list price: $29.95
    our price: $22.46
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: B0000ZG0TA
    Catlog: DVD
    Sales Rank: 443
    Average Customer Review: 3.69 out of 5 stars
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    Amazon.com

    Based on Brian Greene's book, this three-part Nova program should do for physics what Cosmos did for astronomy. Greene hosts the program on the relative new concept of String Theory, a potential (and explosive) answer to the Holy Grail of science: a single, ultimate theory for everything. Part of Greene's (along with filmmakers Julia Cort and Joseph McMaster) genius is the ability to explain complex issues with ease thanks to a generous helping of graphics and humor. It starts with a perplexing anecdote: Einstein died trying to figure out if there could be an ultimate theory. His General Theory of Relativity brought order to the laws of large objects, but could not explain the chancier world of Quantum Mechanics (which deals with atomic particles). String Theory tries to marry the two. Greene and many colleagues give us a history of the quest and how String Theory was "discovered" in the 1980s. The formula has a lot of quirks, the most dazzling being the insistence there's 11 dimensions in the universe. Greene is not as natural as Cosmos creator/host Carl Sagan, but he is certainly friendly and encouraging (albeit it's quite odd for the host to be interviewed at various times in the program). Because it's a three-part show, there is some overlap at the start of hours 2 and 3. --Doug Thomas ... Read more

    Reviews (29)

    3-0 out of 5 stars Good, but not Great
    I was excited to see these programs put out by NOVA, and I have always thought highly of the television program. However, I did not actually learn a whole lot from these specific episodes. While being a show on String Theory, the program beat around the bush about explaining how String Theory works. While covering Newton, Einstein, and Bohr, the NOVA never made a real attempt to explain their theories, but rather gave extremely vague understandings of everything.

    No I do not believe that "The Elegant Universe" should delve on hairy mathematics, but it should answer "whys" and "hows" rather than just simply tell us that there are strings in subatomic atoms. Instead, it wasted so much time repeating things over and over like "people who believed in more dimensions a long time ago would have been labeled 'crackpots' but now String Theory demands it" or "if you can't test something then it's runs the risk of being philosophy." While those are interesting points, they are repeated in these documentarys over and over by the same people with computer graphics running all over the screen, never really doing a great job explaining any these claims.

    I think this would actually be pretty good for anyone who has little knowledge on physics, but definitely not for anyone who is at least familiar with what String Theory is.

    5-0 out of 5 stars High Quality CG Animation realizes String Theory to Everyone
    I was struggling whether I should spend $35Cdn (I bought this from amazon.ca) on this 'String Theory' that I have no clue of what it is but only aware of the interesting sound of 'Theory of Everything'. I was also worrying my limited education background and brain capacity for such complex concept. I took the risk and completed my order. Two days later, I got my dvd delivered to my door, couldn't stand finishing my dinner, I opened it and watched it right away.

    The first 3 minutes was the trailer/intro of this 3 hours DVD. It really drew my attention with interesting topics and high quality special effects & CG animation. I knew my $35Cdn was very well spent. The first hour talked about the ground concepts of basic forces: Gravity & Quantum Mechanics. Don't worry, you don't need a science or physic degree to understand these concepts. The beauty of this DVD is that it uses various scenarios, via pictures, animiation, & special effects to depict the complex concepts to you in a very simple & understandable way. Trust me, even your grade 6 children are able to comprehend the elegant universe theory from this DVD. The first hour was focusing on these basic forces, what Albert Einstein wanted to do with unification, and what the problems were. The second hour talked about how the String theory evolve and help to solve the puzzle of Einstein's unification problem. And the last hour will take the String theory to realize the possiblilities of 11th dimensions, the impacts to our world, and the future of this 'Theory of everything'. If you still find difficulties to understand those concepts, don't worry, you will find lots of interactive education materials from the second DVD. There's an initeresting demo let you to build from 1 dimensional line to a 4-dimensional hypercube visually. I absolutely found those extra goodies were very helpful.

    The only picky thing I disliked was there're quite lengthy advertisings at the beginning of each episode. However, you can always skip it using fast forward. Honestly, this is a true FIVE STARS DVD. It's entertaining, it's simple, visual, excellent three hours programme. You and your kids will sure benefit from this amazing 'Theory of Elegant Universe' --- String.

    3-0 out of 5 stars Elegance Succumbs to Giant Sucking Sound
    Reading the commentary on here is almost more entertaining.

    Well, here are the few points I wanted to make that are not in the work itself and don't seem to be in here:

    1. One of the most interesting parts of this thing is how the community responds to the idea of postulating about problems that cannot be observed. It almost plays like a Lutherian drama at that point (faith/works threatening to split a rift that will lead to civil war). But let's face it: a. the main discovery of the 20th C was uncertainty, which means that even if you can see the electron trail, you have not really succeeded in observing it (at least cleanly), and b. this is an edge that we are bound to have come upon and furthermore, consider the question of what we would do even if we could see down into a realm that bears no resemblance to where we exist, what would we be able to deduce (c.f. Ambrose Bierce's "The Damned Thing": 'nothing')? Anyway, I found this part and the echoes of it here most amusing.

    2. Doesn't 1 kind of point in the direction of Wolfram's unoriginal revolution? Aren't we bound for a world of new information derived solely from simulation? Or are we already there? Why aren't scientists screaming when the proteomics people talk about simulating protein formation?

    3. Scientists are sometimes great story tellers, and sometimes not. This is definitely a case of not. The Newtonian/Einsteinian vectors being returned to ad nauseum are clear signs of a threadbare, almost infantile notion of story construction (with the apple falling standing in, for instance, for the fallen cherry tree of yore). Gleick's book about Feynman shows that that great man view of all things is certainly gone (if it ever did make any sense). Great to herald the accomplishments of others, but should be in a context that provides more depth than the rodeo scene from "Annie Get Your Gun."

    4. Most of the hard questions here were really ultimately ducked or served cold. The buildup to the genius coming in and solving the five models problem was so drawn out I started to think TiVo was tormenting me by replaying sections (I couldn't imagine a conscious editor called for that many repeats). And then the genius' conclusion is that the five models are all reflections of one reality. Ah, I see.... Hello? Are we that dumb? If so, why are we watching? A little more detail please.

    I hope this cat doesn't decide to do a film about Fermat's Last Theorem... I'd like see something that takes a bit more bother with the seminal moment and less with the titillation.

    1-0 out of 5 stars A DISSERVICE TO SCIENCE
    {APOLOGIA: A review as damning as what follows will inevitably seem hyperbolic and unkind. Yet "The Elegant Universe" is such a singular case, and egregious misexample to both the science-documentary profession and public, that I have only said here what was accurate, condign, and the duty of any conscientious, technically knowledgeable commentator.}

    What a vapid production! Terribly, almost moronically, edited, taking forever to say anything, endlessly repetitious. Narcissistic. Precision and key details missing everywhere. No profound development of ideas. Images and props constantly get in the way of meaning and exposition, and most of what IS said will surely already be known to the majority of the literate public.

    Ironically, "The Elegant Universe" is the least elegant of science productions. It could be skillfully cut to a third or a fourth of its present length without substantive, persuasive, or artistic loss, but much dramatic gain.

    Absurd platitudes fairly trip over one another's feet. Why is Isaac Newton supposed to be the "greatest scientist of all time"? In point of fact, he is a most unlikely choice.

    This is the worst science film I have ever seen as a scientist, at least for its length and melodramatic ambition. Although kindergartners might like it. Certainly the ingenious visual and musical simulation of the jittering Dirac vacuum is magnificent!

    With respect to superstring theory itself, this supposed documentary is more like an advertisement than an honest examination of what to date remains a charming but sterile scientific theory, a theory that could easily be joined by a thousand other ideas, neither less nor more plausible, on the same shallow pond of data, where they could all figure skate together. A scientific theory never "proclaims" anything about the universe; only its exponents - physicist Greene, in this instance - can be guilty of THAT.

    Although I found much to enjoy, and more than a little enlightenment, in Brian Greene's superb book of the same title years ago, and strongly recommended its purchase to sophisticated lay friends, in this extraordinarily bathetic television tutorial there is little or no trace of his expository genius and style. I am afraid that in the making of this program the youthful Prof. Greene allowed himself to be badly misused by his handlers.

    The universe is not a cartoon, and science - as publicly understood and professionally pursued - can only be degraded and perverted by such undignified, unintellectual drivel.

    Final impression: Revolting! Literally an embarrassment to watch.

    5-0 out of 5 stars A masterpiece !
    This is an easy one to rate, for me anyway. The depth and continuity of this 3 part series on a heretofore uncovered topic is excellent. Only Timothy Ferris has produced science documentaries at this level in the last decade or so ("Beyond Earth", "The Creation Of The Universe")

    A superb presentation that explores the boundary between physics theory that can be experimented against (quarks, etc), and that which currently cannot (strings). ... Read more


    5. Jazz - A Film by Ken Burns
    list price: $199.92
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: B00004XQOU
    Catlog: DVD
    Sales Rank: 2279
    Average Customer Review: 3.47 out of 5 stars
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    Amazon.com essential video

    Accompanied by a menagerie of products, Ken Burns's expansive 10-episode paean, Jazz, completes his trilogy on American culture, following The Civil War and Baseball. Spanning more than 19 hours, Jazz is, of course, about a lot more than what many have called America's classical music--especially in episodes 1 through 7. It's here that Burns unearths precious visual images of jazz musicians and hangs historical narratives around the music with convincing authority. Time can stand still as images float past to the sound of grainy vintage jazz, and the drama of a phonograph needle being placed on Louis Armstrong's celestial "West End Blues" is nearly sublime.

    The film is also potent in arguing that the history of race in the 20th-century U.S. is at jazz's heart. But a few problems arise. First is Burns's reliance on Wynton Marsalis as his chief musical commentator. Marsalis might be charming and musically expert, but he's no historian. For the film to devote three of its episodes to the 1930s, one expects a bit more historical substance. Also, Jazz condenses the period of 1961 to the present into one episode, glossing over some of the music's giant steps. Burns has said repeatedly that he didn't know much about jazz when he began this project. So perhaps Jazz, for all its glory, would better be called Jazz: What I've Learned Since I Started Listening (And I Haven't Gotten Much Past 1961). For those who are already passionate about jazz, the film will stoke debate (and some derision, together with some reluctant praise). But for everyone else, it will amaze and entertain and kindle a flame for some of the greatest music ever dreamed. --Andrew Bartlett ... Read more

    Reviews (118)

    5-0 out of 5 stars The Best Series on Jazz, Despite Its Flaws
    I am a jazz musician, son of a jazz musician, am conservatory trained, and this series stands toe to toe with the best lectures by the best music historians and music theory experts I have studied with. If Ken Burns chose to follow a the pillars of jazz in depth rather than give ten minutes to every musician to come along in the past hundred years, we are better for it. If you want ten minutes on each musician, read liner notes. Mr. Burns series will be remembered precisely because it does go into such depth. Bird, Duke, Pops and Dizzie do not come clear to you without much study. We should be grateful for the fact that this series is anything but shallow. It is true to the art. If this series, because of such depth, asks more of viewers than they want to give, then let such viewers only seeking entertainment seek that. Americans, everything is not entertainment.

    Jazz itself, from its outset and to this very day, asks more of you than any other music. A series about it should do no less.

    This series is not perfect. Jazz is also imperfect. As Thelonius Monk said, there are no wrong notes. So are there no bad jazz documentaries, as long as they are unflinching, whole, and about the forces that shaped the music. This one is. It's only real flaw is that it is too in love with its own story and the music. That is entirely forgiveable.

    If you have any interest in jazz, buy or rent this series and watch each one like a student, and learn in wonder at the extraordinary music brought to us by African Americans. It is one of the glories of American culture, and of the world, and we should join Ken Burns, his historians, critics and musicians in joyously celebrating the collective creation of the geniuses that graced our land in the past 100 years.

    5-0 out of 5 stars "History," "Documentary," "Theory of" are not in the title.
    The negative reviews of this series assume that Burns is compiling a documentary, writing a historical survey, or undertaking some theoretical analysis of jazz. Burns is above all a biographer. His primary interest is in the life of a particular artist, solider, athlete, explorer, etc.: the overall trajectory of their lives--the choices they make, the risks they are or aren't willing to take, their sufferings in the face of prejudice, misunderstanding, and failure--and how the individual life fits within the larger social context. Hence his emphasis on annecdote, personal letter and photograph, character analysis, and why he has baseball players and actors and club owners as well as scholars and musicians commenting on these people. And why he traces the entire career of someone like Louis Armstrong or Billy Holiday, rather than devoting more time to contemporary muscians whose story it is still too young to be told. Everything else is secondary to this main concern, and to miss this focus is to miss the point of all Ken Burns' documentaries. To grasp it is to experience life within a wider, wiser, almost epic, context. The so-called jazz expert who is miffed over some apparent omission, or overemphasis, or seeming bias, is like the librarian who has all the books catalogued and all the facts at their fingertips but can't see that they might refer to something outside the four walls of their narrow expertise.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Provides a very useful orientation
    Jazz is a relatively recent interest for me--maybe half a dozen years. I'd learned about scattered fragments of jazz, but never developed a systematic understanding, a clear orientation--though a couple of times I'd tried: I bought Gary Giddons' "Visions of Jazz," for instance, which is very good but just didn't capture my imagination.

    Ken Burns' "Jazz" gave me what I've been wanting for years--a clear, evocative, comprehensive way into the genre as a whole.

    Okay, it may not be the last word on the history of jazz. Yeah, some things really irritated me--like the slighting, mentioned by many, of Bill Evans, and the excessive excision of many white musicians to make the generally accurate point that jazz springs more from the experience of Black Americans. (Hint to Burns: You make your argument stronger by showing how apparently contrary data fit, not by leaving them out.) But over all, I found this a very helpful overview. And I enjoyed getting to know the biographies of, and the personal relations among, the players.

    You won't likely get such an orientation from buying a few of the original CDs *instead* of the "Jazz" series. Few of us have the ears or training to discern what's taught in this series. You'd be highly unlikely to realize that, for instance, what was new with Be-Bop is improvising on the underlying chord changes rather than the melody. You'd really have to be perceptive and paying attention to notice what distinguishes Kansas City jazz from New Orleans jazz from New York jazz from West Coast jazz. And *no* album can place *itself* in history. For instance, you cannot learn from listening to an album featuring Coleman Hawkins-or Charlie Christian or Kenny Clarke--that *before* that album people played very differently. In short, you'd have to be far better trained musically and far more observant than most of us are, and listen to dozens (if not hundreds) of albums, to learn what this series teaches.

    As I watched over a period of a couple of weeks, I bought several of the CDs that Burns produced to survey the music, and I found them very instructive. No, as listening experiences, they're not as good as some of the various albums on which the cuts originated. But that's not the point: They are very good ways to get an overview, to get oriented, to know where to go next.

    After seeing this series and studying the accompanying CDs, when I go into the music store and start perusing the jazz disks, I find that I recognize a whole lot more and can surmise a whole lot better what's what and what would interest me. For instance, tonight I saw "From Spirituals to Swing," a three CD set of Carnegie Hall jazz concerts in 1938 and 1939. A month ago, the list of personnel would have meant near-nothing to me--I probably wouldn't have even known what I was looking at, and I doubt I would have looked at the thing for more than thirty seconds. Now, though, I studied and comprehended the personnel and got all excited--"This I gotta hear." So I bought it, and it's great.

    Now, isn't that reason enough to recommend this series?

    That the overall interpretive framework of the series may need correction is not a trenchant criticism, in my opinion. To get a comprehensive understanding of anything, you have to start with *some* systematic framework, which you can then modify, maybe even refute, as you encounter further data. Logically, the first such framework you acquire has to come from someone else, unless you are a genius of extremely wide learning.

    No, Ken Burns' "Jazz" isn't the only guide to jazz you'll ever need--as others have noted, some of the omissions are glaring. But it's fine place to start.

    If you really want to get a sense of jazz, this is an excellent investment, in my opinion. Yeah, it's pricey--but cheaper than, say, an adult education course on jazz appreciation at your local community college (if you include texts and other supporting material). And if you don't want to spend the money--well, you can hint real hard to your significant other that you'd like it for your birthday or Valentine or some such thing.

    Postscript: I almost didn't buy this because of the characterization of Wynton Marsalis's role by several other reviewers here. I'd never much liked his music--it always seemed too cerebral, almost architectural, for my tastes--chilly, not very visceral. (That's just my personal taste--I also find most of Ella Fitzgerald--except her duo wok with Armstrong--a bit emotionally distant, unlike Sarah Vaughan or Billie Holiday or Carmen McRae or many others.)

    I was skeptical about any documentary that made Marsalis the central story teller.

    Well, two things: (1) He just isn't the central story teller here. He does not have anything approaching the majority of commentator air time. It is certainly true that he plays a role analogous to Shelby Foote's in "The Civil War"--he is a unifying presence, especially in the early going and toward the end. This is just good film making--to establish "characters" whose presence throughout helps give unity to the piece. (2) I really liked Wynton in this documentary. He came off as much earthier, more laid back, mischievous, funnier and more fun, than I ever would have imagined. And he is really quite illuminating, especially when he explains various musical concepts--like the "Big 4." (I went back and listened to "Thick in the South," thinking maybe I'd like his music more now. Nope. Still feels too thought-out, too chilly, to me. Oh, well.)

    3-0 out of 5 stars Could have been so much better
    I guess it says something that I have gone back and watched Burns' "Civil War" documentary more than a dozen times since I first saw it, and have only watch "Jazz" once since the first time. The Civil War documentary certainly is rife with factual inaccuracies but by & large gets the essential story of the conflict right. "Jazz," on the other hand, treats its subject as though the last 40-50 years never happened. It is as though the Civil War documentary would have lingered over the years 1861-1863 incessantly, then sped through the last two years ("Oh yeah, there were a couple of battles, Atlanta burned, Lee surrendered, the war was over. The end." Something like that) as though they didn't matter.

    As I found the documentary going into its umpteenth hour and we STILL weren't out of the 1930's yet, I had a bad feeling about where this was going. You would have thought that Louis Armstrong had been annointed as the Jazz Pope and he ruled over the world of jazz for 40 years. In his proper context, Armstrong is very important, but Burns seems positively fixated on him. He dwells on every facet of Armstrong's upbringing & early career. Unless he planned on making a 60-hour documentary, there was no way Burns could hope to do justice to the more recent history of the genre, and sure enough he basically hits the fast forward button once the be-bop era is coming to a close.

    Personally, I cannot stand fushion jazz, but nonetheless some mention needs to made of a style that was dominant in jazz for almost as long as the swing style, for crying out loud. Also, relying almost exculsively on Wynton Marsalis (doing his best impression of a crochety old man on his front porch, railing at a world that has passed him by) really was not a good idea & imbues the entire documentary with a hopelessly retrograde flavor.

    I watched it once, and came away disappointed. I watched it a second time, hoping that I could find more to appreciate, but only found that it continued to disappoint. I don't know if it merits any future viewings, and that is indeed a shame, because it is a subject that deserves better treatment than this.

    4-0 out of 5 stars Excellent for what it is
    It's surprizing how vociferously some "snobs" condemn "Jazz" simply because it's not as comprehensive as they seem to think it should be. From reading these reviews you would think Ken Burns is a half-step above a holocaust-denier for not including Roland Kirk or Eric Dolphy. "Jazz" is a wonderful, inspiring and, yes, traditional look at the art form. Newcomers shouldn't be dissuaded because it's not as complete as it should be. ... Read more


    6. Victory at Sea
    list price: $79.95
    our price: $59.96
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    Asin: B0000AQS3X
    Catlog: DVD
    Sales Rank: 729
    Average Customer Review: 3.16 out of 5 stars
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    A 26-episode World War II documentary, Victory at Sea is one of the most important series in the history of television. Made in 1952, the show was a huge success, winning many major awards and even spawning albums featuring the orchestral score by Richard Rodgers, best known for his musicals with Lorenz Hart and Oscar Hammerstein II. Produced with the full cooperation of the U.S. Navy, each 26-minute program consists of black-and-white wartime film set to a narration by Leonard Graves. The two years leading up to America's entry into the war are dismissed in episode one, while the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor gets a show of its own, the raid depicted in a brilliantly edited montage that almost certainly contains "docu-drama" footage. Each episode contains at least one powerful stand-alone sequence in the tradition of Serge Eisenstein (Battleship Potemkin), these action-suspense set-pieces giving the programs an urgent, surprisingly modern feel. Indeed, the emphasis is at least as much on entertainment as information, the factual content delivered in poetic narration, the score transforming the war into a more than usually serious Hollywood adventure. The documentaries are nothing if not wide-ranging, covering parts of the land war despite the title, and including everything from the Atlantic convoys and U-boat "Wolfpacks" to war in Alaska, the South Atlantic, and the Far East, the Pacific War, and the Fall of Japan. There is an attempt to include other nations--certainly the D-Day episode acknowledges the British far more than Saving Private Ryan--but inevitably the focus is on America's war.The very dated narration gives a fascinating insight into how America saw WWII in the early 1950s, while the dynamic cutting and often genuinely remarkable wartime footage make Victory at Sea still gripping today. Twenty years later, Granada's The World at War would become the definitive television WWII history, but this release offers a unique opportunity to see a series of great importance from the very early days of television. --Gary S. Dalkin ... Read more

    Reviews (31)

    2-0 out of 5 stars 5 stars for content but ZERO stars for TERRIBLE AUDIO MIX
    I loved the content. Other reviewers here have verbalized my feelings concerning the quality of the video. However, the sound mix is so poor that if you set the volume to an appropriate sound level for the very nice music you are completely unable to hear the voice of the narrator. Even if you have your finger on the volume control constantly you are unable to dynamically raise and lower the audio volume to try and hear the narrator without blasting your ear drums with the elevated music sound level. I would advise anyone buying this DVD set to consider it acceptable ONLY if you listen to it with a 5 channel speaker set up with a dedicated center channel (for speech, etc.) where you are able to individually raise and lower that channel of sound. Even then you may be astonished just how much boost the center channel is going to need compared with the other sound channels. Frankly, this DVD release needs to be redone as far as the audio is concerned! Other than that, the video is great....

    4-0 out of 5 stars Victory at Sea DVD Is Awesome
    I recently purchased this DVD and was very skeptical after reading all the comments about the sound track. However, I didn't find any issues with either the sound track or the narrative for all four volumes. I have a Panasonice DVD Player with the Dolby Digital,DTS Digital Surround and MPEG, and the music score by Richard Rogers is one of the reasons for buying this DVD. It is a " Must Have" for military history buffs. If you have a PC with a DVD/CD ROM Combination, you can use it to view this DVD and adjust the sound track to blend in with the narrative.

    2-0 out of 5 stars Sound issues and the original
    I have the original soundtrack on LP, with the NBC Symphony Orchestra conducted by Richard Rogers himeself. It's my father's and needless to say, it does not get much play time for preservation sake. I also own both CDs "Victory at Sea" and "MORE Victory at Sea," (BMG Music 1992) both conducted by Robert Russel Bennett and contain slightly arraigned versions of the very familar complete soundtrack by the RCA Symphony Orchestra and is remixed in extremely good Dolby Surround. The original soundtrack is fairly clear and does sound a little tinny and was recorded in mono. (Unless it was a dual issue in both stereo and mono. I only have the mono.) While a properly mixed original soundtrack would sound great, IMHO, the Dolby version would sound even better. What I'm getting at is, it's not the soundtrack's fault this apparently sounds so bad. I really wanted to buy this, but I think I'll hold off and wait and see.

    1-0 out of 5 stars One star too many!
    What an unmitigated hustle this dvd collection turned out to be. Equal portions of venom and spite are hereby awarded to History Channel and NBC for this travesty. My 5.1 dts sound system did nothing to alleviate the worse than poor sound quality/balance issues. This legendary series and it's participants certainly deserve better than this quick and dirty rendition gives. Maybe the capital "H" seen in the lower right hand corner of the teevee screen actually stands for "hustle". I would gladly purchase a remastered and remixed set but for now am left with this doorstop.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Good atmospheric and stirring stuff!
    I came across the soundtrack many years after first hearing snippets from it on the original T.V series of the same name.
    I was enthralled by the sheer vibrancy and 'now-ness' of this great piece of modern classical music. You can easily picture the great ships of both the American and Japanese fleets as they engage in the greatest sea battle of all time. The spinning, swooping aircraft as they play thier all important roles of hunter/killer.
    The evocation of individual men and women enjoying a rare respite from battle in some of the quieter passages, shore leave. All part of this amazingingly descriptive music. It will continue to be an important piece by sheer virtuosity of the skillful interplay of individual instruments producing an altogether sucessful blend of sombre, stirring and gentle, very easy to listen-to-again and again music. I cannot praise it enough! ... Read more


    7. The Amos & Andy Box Set
    list price: $83.98
    our price: $83.98
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    Asin: B0002BW2OE
    Catlog: DVD
    Sales Rank: 2580
    Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars
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    Reviews (1)

    5-0 out of 5 stars ALL OF THEM.
    THE ACTORS IN "AMOS AND ANDY" ARE WONDERFUL. THEY ARE SO FUNNY. I BELIEVE THEY ARE FANTASTIC ACTORS, WHO NEVER GOT THE CREDIT THEY DESERVED. PEOPLE WHO HAVE NEVER SEEN THESE ARE MISSING A GOOD LAUGH AND REAL COMEDY! ANDY AND KINGFISH REMIND ME OF LUCY AND ETHEL ("I LOVE LUCY"). I BELIEVE A LOT OF PEOPLE HAVE THE WRONG IDEA ABOUT THIS OLD SERIES. IT IS JUST A GOOD COMEDY! ... Read more


    8. A History of Britain - The Complete Collection
    list price: $99.95
    our price: $74.96
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    Asin: B00006RCKI
    Catlog: DVD
    Sales Rank: 1045
    Average Customer Review: 4.24 out of 5 stars
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    What do you get when you combine the resources and ethos of the BBC with the literary panache of one of the world's best narrative historians? The answer is Simon Schama's History of Britain television series. In this well-written and thoughtfully crafted survey, Schama, the bestselling author of books on European cultural history such as The Embarrassment of Riches and Citizens, has managed to be both conventional and provocative. He tells the official version of Britain's story--Roman Britain, the Norman Conquest, the struggles of the Henrys and Richards, Elizabeth I, Scottish rebellions and the English Civil Wars, the American Revolution, the growth of the British Empire, Queen Victoria, the industrial age, and Winston Churchill. But while sticking to a script familiar to anyone who sat up and listened during history class, Schama brings it all alive with memorable prose and presence--Simon de Montfort's rebel parliament is described as inaugurating the "union between patriotism and insubordination"; with Henry VIII, Schama says, "you could practically smell the testosterone." Schama is also particularly enlightening on the symbolism of buildings, memorials, language, and ceremonies, and on the complex relations between England and its Celtic and Catholic neighbors. If history must have gloss, then let it be presented like this. --Miles Taylor ... Read more

    Reviews (29)

    5-0 out of 5 stars Schama, A True Historian.
    Thank you Simon Schama and everyone else involved in making these documentaries and releasing them on DVD. Five discs dealing with the history of Great Britain from 3100 BC to the 20th century. You get to find the true story behind the man Mel Gibson played in Braveheart. You get to know all about all the major kings and queens that shaped the UK. You get to know all about the invasions by the Roman Empire and the Vikings and what impact that had on the Britons. Winston Churchill, Oliver Cromwell and George Orwell are here. There's a documentary on the effect the Plague (Started in 1348) had on England. This is an awesome boxset and well worth the price thanks to Simon and company. I could not have asked for any better, But I wish Simon would do a three or four hour documentary that went into the details of the Falklands war. It would be cool if he did the same for the British side of the story of WWII and WWI. Anyways he did a superb job on this, I am just most fascinated with the conflicts of the 20th century. I don't like movies based on conflicts that happened so long ago but documentaries is a different story. Simon makes it so interesting. Thank you Simon for all your hard work in getting this job done. I really appreciate it. Cheers.

    5-0 out of 5 stars A Must for any Anglophile...
    A History of Britain is a wonderful but pricey treat for any fan of British history. Some of the negative reviews complain that it is too superficial. How, I would ask, can you give a COMPLETE history of a country that spans 5,000 years? The collection consists of 15 hour-long documentaries starting from Britain's earliest past, five-thousand years ago. We see the still-standing stone communities where the ancient British dwelled.

    Of course, Simon Schama must be selective in what he chooses to discuss. Each episode has a theme. Although all the major points of British history are touched upon, Schama will focus on the most interesting bits of each event - how and why they happened and what they meant. He tries to give us a sense of reasons behind historical events and not just dates and places. My favorite episode deals with Henry II - arguably England's greatest and most under-appreciated monarch. We see his troubles with Thomas a Beckett. Schama re-creates, in vivid detail, what the "Murder in the Cathedral" was like: Beckett was not a plaster saint, but a street-wise tough kid from the wrong side of the docks who fearlessly faced down his murderers.

    Visually, the series shows some re-enactments with actors. There are many voice-over readings of historical documents. Schama is the only featured performer. He takes you to the various places and narrates in a very distinctive, clipped manner of speaking. Ultimately, it is the shots of the timeless Britain that are the most effective - the hills, the meadows, and especially the sea. These are the bits that have remained the same and convey the greatest feeling of history.

    I can't imagine anybody not being fascinated by this program. They are very re-watchable. Having examined them, you will feel a much deeper understanding of British history - and indeed world history. Perhaps no other country has a story as fascinating, as rich, or as varied as Britain's. Watch this and you will know why.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Very good, covers a lot of ground.
    I really don't understand the one-star reviews and their complaints about the series. Saying that the series focused on the gory details and sex is a plain exageration. The series leaves a lot of stuff out that's for sure, there is not a lot of coverage on the wars with Spain and France or the overseas expansion, but I am ok with that since I wanted a "quick" overview of the matter. If you want a detailed account you are going to need several thick books.
    A must-buy for any amateur historian; informative and very entertaining.

    1-0 out of 5 stars Very Disappointing
    With anticipated glee, we bought this DVD series as a Christmas gift for our family; however, as we went through each of the 5 DVD's, we became increasingly disappointed in Schama's "history." So much of his presentation seems to be "on the fringe" and not central to the mainstream of the basic history of Britain. Also, as others have pointed out, Schama seems intent on presenting the "gore" of battles, tragedies, etc. He also seems fascinated with sex and the eccentric too much. We just felt that we were not getting the fullness of the basic story of Britain's history. It was very disappointing, and we would not recommend it.

    2-0 out of 5 stars A rather uninteresting and pretentious overview of Britain
    I purchased this series with high hopes and I found viewing it to be very disappointing. The host was annoying the images added nothing to the presentation and there was way too much time spent looking at peacocks and flowing streams.

    I suppose that the history would have been OK if it weren't so scanty. This was very much a quick overview, which often left out key facts that would be vital to understanding the motivation for actions in later parts of the series.

    I commend the idea behind creating a good series in the history of Britain, but I can only suggest that this one be avoided at all costs. ... Read more


    9. Koyaanisqatsi / Powaqqatsi (2 Pack)
    list price: $29.98
    our price: $22.49
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: B00003CXAY
    Catlog: DVD
    Sales Rank: 1095
    Average Customer Review: 4.46 out of 5 stars
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    Koyaanisqatsi
    First-time filmmaker Godfrey Reggio's experimental documentary from 1983--shot mostly in the desert Southwest and New York City on a tiny budget with no script, then attracting the support of Francis Ford Coppola and George Lucas and enlisting the indispensable musical contribution of Philip Glass--delighted college students on the midnight circuit and fans of minimalism for many years. Meanwhile, its techniques, merging cinematographer Ron Fricke's time-lapse shots (alternately peripatetic and hyperspeed) with Glass's reiterative music (from the meditative to the orgiastic)--as well as its ecology-minded imagery--crept into the consciousness of popular culture. The influence of Koyaanisqatsi, or "life out of balance," has by now become unmistakable in television advertisements, music videos, and, of course, similar movies such as Fricke's own Chronos and Craig McCourry's Apogee. Reggio shot a sequel, Powaqqatsi (1988), and completed the trilogy with Naqoyqatsi (2002). Koyaanisqatsi provides the uninitiated the chance to see where it all started--along with an intense audiovisual rush.

    Powaqqatsi
    Powaqqatsi (1988), or "life in transformation," is the second part of a trilogy of experimental documentaries whose titles derive from Hopi compound nouns. The now legendary Koyaanisqatsi (1983), or "life out of balance," was the first. Naqoyqatsi (2002), or "life in war," was the third. Powaqqatsi finds director Godfrey Reggio somewhat more directly polemical than before, and his major collaborator, the composer Philip Glass, stretching to embrace world music.Reggio reuses techniques familiar from the previous film (slow motion, time-lapse, superposition) to dramatize the effects of the so-called First World on the Third: displacement, pollution, alienation. But he spends as much time beautifully depicting what various cultures have lost--cooperative living, a sense of joy in labor, and religious values--as he does confronting viewers with trains, airliners, coal cars, and loneliness. What had been a more or less peaceful, slow-moving, spiritually fulfilling rural existence for these "silent" people (all we hear is music and sound effects) becomes a crowded, suffocating, accelerating industrial urban hell, from Peru to Pakistan. Reggio frames Powaqqatsi with a telling image: the Serra Pelada gold mines, where thousands of men, their clothes and skin imbued with the earth they're moving, carry wet bags up steep slopes in a Sisyphean effort to provide wealth for their employers. While Glass juxtaposes his strangely joyful music, which includes the voices of South American children, a number of these men carry one of their exhausted comrades out of the pit, his head back and arms outstretched--one more sacrifice to Caesar. Nevertheless, Reggio, a former member of the Christian Brothers, seems to maintain hope for renewal. --Robert Burns Neveldine ... Read more

    Reviews (97)

    5-0 out of 5 stars Inproper Matting? Who Cares!
    Although some people are quick to point out that the MGM version of Koyaanisqatsi is improperly matted to 1.85:1, who really cares? If you are a fan of the 'qatsi films, then you are well aware that they have been out of print (unavailable to the public for purchase or even rental) for a LONG time. I have long been trying to obtain a bootleg, or even laserdisc copy of the films. On ebay they usually went for upwards of $100 a copy. When I heard that MGM was releasing the films on DVD, I was estatic, and after watching them at home on my TV, I am even more happy.

    Koyaanisqatsi is a love-hate film; you either love it, or hate it. For me, the brillance of Koyaanisqatsi comes in the juxtaposition of it's imagery and film score. The imagery is stunning: beautiful yet disturbing at times. The filmmaker Godfrey Reggio gives the viewer imagery and lets them make their own decisions about "what it means." This renders Koyannisqatsi a film where the viewer is quite active. If you do not like to think, or do not like abstractions you will most definitely not enjoy these films. If you enjoy thinking, and want to watch an experimental film that will leave you thinking for weeks, if not months afterwards, I can't recommend this film more.

    5-0 out of 5 stars This is a very different movie
    I just found out that this movie is not available for purchase and is hard to find for rent. I bought a copy on VHS over ten years ago and just realized how rare it is today.

    If you are an environmentally and socially conscious person and feel that you are pro-earth and pro-people then this movie will connect with you. If you aren't, then don't bother. The message will be lost on you and you'll just fall asleep watching it.

    However, the images are something else. I was on a 36 hour fast and put this video on again. I had not watched it in some time. It was like I had never seen the movie before.

    The only way that you can get this movie on DVD today is to make a 180 dollar contribution to the makers of this movie who have run short of money and are working on the third part of the trilogy of "Qatsi" movies. They have a website where they will tell you how to make the purchase. Just enter the title of the movie plus .com

    It would be well worth the money spent to get this on DVD because of the powerful imagery and the Glass soundtrack.

    5-0 out of 5 stars A Masterpiece
    The only shortcoming of the masterpiece epic "Koyaanisqatsi" on DVD is technical: the tape-to-DVD transfer is quite noisy: it's evident in some shots and colors where the shimmering "noise" detracts slightly from the visuals. Nevertheless this is a groundbreaking film, and seeing it 21 years after its cinematic release, yah it blows me (and anyone else who sees it)away.

    So hey GR howzaboot a complete remastering, on par with the excellent soundtrack remaster? This film deserves nothing less. One of the top 5 films of all time.

    4-0 out of 5 stars Yes, get the 2- pack!
    The first film, "Koyaanisqatsi," is superior, but the second film, "Powaqqatsi," has many visually stimulating moments as well. "Koyaanisqatsi" was a landmark film when it was first released, using time-lapse photography and other trick-cinematography to show the world in a new way. There are many provocative moments, my personal favorites being shots of landscapes and night-time city-scapes accelerated. The final shot of a rocket exploding is simply visceral to the point of being haunting. I can still see the swirling, fiery image days afterward. Now, for the second film. "Powaqqatsi" has some amazing shots, as well, but it lacks the first film's unique originality, using many of the same techniques from the first film but with fewer jarring sequences. However, the score to the second film is what really carries it to the end. The music, in my humble opinion, is more memorable and gives a sense of worldly ambience. Indeed, I loved the score so much that directly after watching "Powaqqatsi" I went on-line and purchased the CD. As a combination, these two films are engrossing, dated here and there, annoying at times, but overall, emotionally moving. What sold me on the 2-pack is the fact it's only a couple of bucks more for both. To me, it was worth it. It's like I got the second film as a rental that I never have to return. Adios.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Astounding
    This film is one of few that has used this form of media to it's full potential. The combination of images and music presented in a fashion that allows the view to extrapolate meaning (rather than have meaning thrust upon them) is both refreshing and thought-provoking. This trilogy is a true artistic masterpiece. ... Read more


    10. The Big Red One - The Reconstruction (Two-Disc Special Edition)
    list price: $26.99
    our price: $18.99
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    Asin: B0007TKNLA
    Catlog: DVD
    Sales Rank: 139
    Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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    Sam Fuller's The Big Red One was already one of the best films of 1980, despite the fact that the version released to theaters ran barely half as long as the director's cut. Fuller had been America's ballsiest B-movie auteur, an ex-newspaper reporter of the hardnosed breed who made fiercely personal, radically stylized, and politically outspoken films between the early '50s (The Steel Helmet, Pickup on South Street) and the early '60s (Shock Corridor). The Big Red One was his long-dreamt-of account of World War II as experienced by his own squad of the 1st Infantry Division, USA, from the first shot fired (by a dead man, on the coast of North Africa) to the last (in a concentration camp in Czechoslovakia).

    Even in the studio-truncated version, there was no shortage of astonishing moments and sequences: the squad choking on dust in a bat-filled cave in North Africa as German tanks clatter past the entrance; Fuller's cold-blooded distillation of the D-Day slaughter on Omaha Beach, with a wrist watch on a dead arm in the surf marking time as the water slopping over it grows redder; the rifle squad delivering a Frenchwoman's baby in a German tank on a battlefield full of corpses; a commando-like raid on Nazi troops bivouacked in a Belgian insane asylum. A quarter-century later, film critic Richard Schickel and Warner Bros. executive Brian Jamieson succeeded in restoring 15 never-seen sequences and fleshing out 23 others to create The Big Red One: The Reconstruction, a "new" film nearly an hour longer.

    Above all, BR1: The Reconstruction has a rhythm the 1980 cut lacked. The arc of years, battles, and battlegrounds is so much more satisfying. Greater play is given to Fuller's feeling for children caught up in the sidewash of history and atrocity. And the 2004 cut puts sex back into the movie, not orgiastically but as a fact of life and a rarely forgotten driving force. We can see now that Fuller touched, bluntly and shockingly, on the phenomenon of infiltrators--English-speaking German warriors who donned GI khaki and moved among their enemies waiting for a chance to strike.

    It's also apparent, as it was not in 1980, that Lee Marvin as the eternal Sergeant leading the young squad is magnificent. This was Marvin's greatest role, rivaled only by his walking dead man in John Boorman's Point Blank. Just beneath the masterly implacability, we glimpse the tenderness, rage, dark humor, experience, and wisdom beyond guilt that have enabled him to survive, to preserve others and to soldier on. His performance, like Fuller's film, is a masterpiece. --Richard T. Jameson ... Read more

    Reviews (54)

    5-0 out of 5 stars THE BIG RED ONE - THE RECONSTRUCTION.
    Like other reviewers, I saw the film when it first appeared and liked it. But I also felt that it also lacked some missing features which the novel supplied. Fortunately, a reconstruction has now occurred with the "missing footage" making an accomplished film more like the masterpiece Sam Fuller intended. Thanks to DVD, one does not have to live in a major city to see films like this. The 2 disk reconstruction is amazing and the restored footage is really where it belongs. This is a major work of cinema which needs to be widely disseminated.

    On the whole Richard Schickel and the restorers have done a good job. On the audio-commentary, Schickel mentions that the reason Fuller's work is now relevant to today (rather than his more illustrious Academy Award winning contemporaries) is because it reflects the insecurity of life and rejects any false sense of complacency. The film contains one of Lee Marvin's best performances supported with sterling performances by those young actors who play the Four Horsemen to say nothing of those other great performances by Stephane Audran, Serge Marquand, Siegfried Rauch, and Christa Lang Fuller herself in a restored scene. I have one hesitation to record. Both Shickel and the restorers often refer to cinematic cohesion. However, Samuel Fuller would always bend or break the rules at times. That is what made his films so iconoclastic and revolutionary in the same way that his absurd dialogue such as "If you die, I'll kill you" had great emotional reverberation. It is a shame the voice-over was not removed entirely because it is really redundant. The excellent acting and relevant silences speak for themselves in the best manner of silent cinema. Somne "deleted" sequences such as the Vichy officer debate could have been restored.

    But, in the last analysis, these are really minor points and we should be really grateful for this restoration which really should stimulate a Samuel Fuller Collection on DVD containing not only his most well-known works but others such as CHINA GATE (in restored letterbox form), VERBOTEN, THE CRIMSON KIMONO, and WHITE DOG to show the real diversity of this man's talent and the valuable cinematic heritage he has lef for future generations to appreciate.

    4-0 out of 5 stars Truthful, brutal and magnificent
    This film commences with a hard hitting statement that is unmistakably Sam Fuller. "THIS IS FICTIONAL LIFE, ABOUT FACTUAL DEATH". From that moment, he grabs the audience by the scruff of the neck and takes them on a fascinating, ballsy, unsentimental ride through WWII as he saw it. The film is refreshing for it's determined 'survivor's' point of view. He does not judge with emotions in the simplistic way that so many war films do. Instead he puts you in the state of mind you need to actually survive a war, and given Fuller himself survived WWII, he might just be on to something. The art in this film is all in the contradictions of real life and the perverse pleasures that can arise in even the most horrific of settings. A scene in Italy where the rifle squadren liberate an asylum is magnificently chaotic and amoral in it's presentation. In the midst of this madness Griff (Mark Hamill) somehow enjoys a transformative sexual experience with a psychologically damaged woman. We are reminded time and again that these men are only human, with needs that make little sense in the context of war. Fuller shows the straightforward machine you need to become to survive a war. If you know someone in your platoon is going to die, don't bother getting to know them too well. Harsh, but that, according to Fuller, is how you make it through. Lee Marvin's performance, commented upon here by many reviewers is an engine house of repressed humanity. And it's not overdone - you wouldn't even know the humanity was there. Watch this performance then watch Liam Neeson in Schindler's List. With respect to Neeson, he is playing a character. Marvin is playing a man.

    4-0 out of 5 stars Surviving is part of the fight in reconstructed classic
    Surviving war is the most challenging part of it. Whether it be surviving the physical and psychological rigors of war or it's sometimes nasty aftermath "The Big Red One: The Reconstruction" is one of the finest movies made about World War II. Fuller ("Shock Corridor" among many other films)made a lot of exploitation films during his long varied career but it's clear that here Fuller had found his best story to tell.

    Lee Marvin gives a terrific performance (and one of the best of his career)as the leader of a group of young soldiers. Most of the cast does an exceptional job as well (particularly Robert Carradine essentially playing Fuller). The film has its minor flaws certainly (some of the performances are a bit stilted)but film critic Richard Schickel a long time admirer of Fuller and this film has done a marvelous job of restoring Fuller's masterpiece to its original projected length. Schickel used the original script, production notes and the memories of some of the production participants to help recreate the film Fuller intended to release in the first place.

    The new version runs two hours and forty two minutes with the first disc devoted to the film. The second disc has alternate scenes; "Anatomy of a Scene" looks at the film both before and after the restoration. I haven't had time to watch "The Real Glory:Reconstructing The Big Red One" or the War department reel "The Fighting First" yet but the qualtiy of the documentary on Sam Fuller and the rest of the material is quite good.

    4-0 out of 5 stars War Classic -HORRIBLE PACKAGING MATERIALS!
    Great film, DVD done right, package LOOKS good, but when I went to open it up it took ALMOST A HALF AN HOUR AND EVEN THEN THE LOW-GRADE SUPER-STICKY TAPE ON ALL EDGES OF THE CASE RUINED THE COVER! Whoever made choices contributing to this fiasco needs to be shot! Or at least fired and drummed out of the industry. Didn't help matters that on the fancy black slip cover Best Buy had slapped a big ugly price sticker that wouldn't come off all the way, even after I heated the glue up with a hair dryer. Hey, I hope you slobs responsible for these stupid choices are reading this because you are a bunch of incompetent unprofressionals. Still, buy this DVD, anyway.

    4-0 out of 5 stars Pretty good aswar movies go
    As a kid I enjoyed this movie very much.It has some pretty good action sequences and in some parts, you can have true actual feelings for what soldiers go through when in battle.It has a very good ending and I feel it is definitely worth watching when you have the time.One of my favorite war movies. ... Read more


    11. My Architect
    Director: Nathaniel Kahn
    list price: $29.95
    our price: $22.46
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    Asin: B0006Q93EM
    Catlog: DVD
    Sales Rank: 597
    Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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    One nonfiction film that truly creates a narrative journey, My Architect is filmmaker Nathaniel Kahn's engrossing search for his father. Louis Kahn, one of the most celebrated architects of the 20th century, died in 1974 and left behind a highly compartmentalized life, including two children born out of wedlock to two mistresses. Nathaniel interviews the members of this somewhat puzzled family, but his deepest experiences are visits to the buildings that his father made (such as the grand Salk Institute in La Jolla, California), culminating in an emotional trip to Bangladesh. Here, Louis Kahn designed a massive government complex, a soaring achievement (and fascinating paradox--a Muslim capital designed by a Jewish man). This film asks:where does an artist truly live? In his life, or in the work he leaves behind? Nathaniel Kahn takes an amazingly even-tempered approach to this, given his personal stake in the story, and the result is a uniquely stirring movie. --Robert Horton ... Read more

    Reviews (25)

    4-0 out of 5 stars What a ripper!
    I watched this movie because I am fond of Louis Kahn's architectural works and I took my wife along as a test if general public would be able to relate to an architectural movie.It just happened that this movie managed to captivate the audience's heart strings.The essence of the Director, Louis Kahn's "bastard" son (as the Director called himself) was to discover his father via interviewing his colleagues (I M Pei, Philip Johnson), his admirers (Frank Gehry), his critic (the name has escaped me but the person that blocked Louis' utopian vision of having a non-vehicle city of Philadelphia, his ex-employees, his mistresses, his friends (in Bangladesh and India and happened to be architects in their own rights), viewing his works (some soaring in spiritual heights and grandeur and some simply polarised opinions).As the movie concluded, the Director said succinctly that he finally rediscovered his relationship with his Dad and it's time to move on after finishing this project.As some people said in this documentary, it's essential that Louis is seen as a fallible human-being but not a being of extraordinary capabilities.They continued to say that whilst there's no denying he made mistakes, that's offset by all contributions that he made to humankind and a person that sacrificed so much for his art at the expense of his families and his livelihood.This documentary comprised of many aspects that I didn't know of Louis Kahn and irrespective if it's catering to architectural buff like myself or to people who simply wanted to engage in splendid human story, this documentary is it.Whilst documentary is a bit crass, like Louis Kahn's belief, honesty and integrity in art is pivotal and I think his son would make him a very proud father indeed.This documentary comes in square format.Soundtracks that came together with this documentary can be deemed as whimsical (from all fields imaginable) but some really rose to the ocassion namely the one by Beethoven.Highly recommended.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Just Wonderful
    Nathanial Kahn tells the story of a son's search for the mystery of his father through this one son's personal search. The story is emotionally gripping.The journey includes some fantastic visuals of buildings designed by Louis Kahn (example, the Salk Insititue), biographical information on his life, and interviews with prominent architects such as I.M. Pei, Moshe Safdie, Phillip Johnson and others.

    The film also presents a working architects office and interviews with those who people such a world (even taxi drivers).A touching interview is with a man who viewed Louis Kahn after he had had a heart attack in Penn. Station...the viewer can feel the emotion of the son in the need for this interview (Nathanial was eleven when his father died). Louis Kahn's deathwas afront page NY Time'sstory.
    There is a design to the filmthat interweaves these various threads with remarkable honesty and objectivity.
    This documentary film is truly a work of art (including the selections that comprise the musical score). It is one to own.

    5-0 out of 5 stars A Great Film
    I was very impressed with the manner that Nathanial Kahn included his audience in the discoveries he made in the documentary of his father. Although I watched it three days ago, the film still weighs heavily on my mind and in my heart. My heart goes out to the 11 year old boy who lost his father, and his dreams at such a young age. My respect goes out to a director who approached the project in such an openminded and honest manner.

    Nathanial Kahn managed to create a wonderful film that explained much about Louis Kahn's life and personality without de-mystifying him in any way. His movie is honest, personal and objective at times. At others, it is detached, and purposefully open ended. The complexity of the film is a clear reflection of the complexity of Louis Kahn himself. A man who was a genius, but was so flawed in his personal life.

    Nathanial Kahn, like his father, istruly a creative genius. If one studies the evolving nature of his style through this film, it is clear he was experimenting and learning as he went. He was adapting to the content.

    He would extract memories from individuals who knew his father, but the information was decidedly different depending on whether the person knew he was Kahn's son, or whether this fact was hidden from the person being interviewed. It was fascinating to see how he himself hid the fact that he was Louis Kahn's son in an effort to obtain more objective thoughts from his subjects. A less talented filmmaker would have been unable to evolve throughout the filmmaking process the way Nathanial Kahn did.

    The honesty of his approach could be construed as a lack of a strong concept for the film, but I believe it is truly a reflection of his openmindedness, and his desire to get at the truth about his father. His clear lack of an agenda for the film is not only a credit to him as a filmmaker, but it is the one aspect of him that separates him from nearly every documentary-maker in the national spotlight today.

    Finally, I can't end this review without commenting on Ed Bacon, the retired city planner from Philadelphia, and Louis Kahn's arch enemy.Ed Bacon has to be one of the most crass and uninspiring people I have ever seen on film. An egotist with a trailer park mentality at best.

    It is ashame such an unintellectual individual could hold so much power for so long in a city as great as Philadelphia. The damage he created in his career will haunt that city for decades. I certainly credit Nathanial Kahn for simply letting the camera roll. The more Ed Bacon talked, the more foolish he looked and sounded. Nathanial Kahn's genius for quickly adapting to his subject captured the true evil that Mr. Bacon somehow managed to exploit for so many years. Through this film, it is quite satisfying to know that in the end, Louis Kahn triumphed over Ed Bacon. This is what history will record.

    I do not believe there was true closure for Nathanial Kahn,but I do believe the facts show his father truly loved him in his own way. This was clearly evident in photos of the two, as well as when they made the book of funny boats one evening when Nathanial was a child.

    There is no question that Louis Kahn hurt those who were close to him. Nevertheless, there was something special about him that kept his family and friends in place for so long both during life, and long after his death. The film does not completely explain this phenomenon, but like his art and his life, it is a question that has no clear answer.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Phenomenal architect, phenomenal film
    This film works just beautifully, both as a personal narrative and as an exploration of Kahn's visionary architecture.I was utterly floored by the emotional impact of Nathaniel Kahn's journey into his father's past.As Kahn's appreciation of his father's professional accomplishments expands, so, too, does his sense of loss for the absentee father whom he knew only fleetingly, and who died when he was eleven.By the end of the film, when we see the reverence with which Kahn is viewed in India (where he is considered a sort of yogi or guru for his transformation of matter into "light and silence"), and in Bangladesh (where his enormous personal and financial sacrifice to build the governmental center made him a martyr in the eyes of many), we may come to view his problematic moral and family choices as simply the byproduct of a mind focused on universal themes.But this does not negate the intense pain he caused his several families, and it is instructive that someone so generous and talented was also the instrument of so much personal suffering to those who loved him most.The filmmaker explores all of this with unflinching honesty, enhanced by wonderful camera work and an evocative soundtrack; he has created a work of art entirely worthy of his famous father's legacy.

    4-0 out of 5 stars Some people choose to love things rather than people
    This is a movie by Nathaniel Kahn, about his father, Louis I. Kahn, who is regarded as one of the great architects of the 20th century. Notice that the movie is titled "My Architect," not "My Father." Nathaniel does not know much about his father; Louis Kahn died when Nathaniel was 11. He died in Penn Station, in the restroom, and his body was unclaimed for three days because he had scratched out the home address on his passport and no one knew who he was. Nathaniel's mother told him this was because his father had decided to leave his legal wife and daughter, and come to live with Nathaniel and his mom. Up till this time, Louis had only come to visit Nathaniel and his mother about once a week, at night, and they drove Louis home before morning, letting him out a few blocks from his home.

    This film is shot documentary style. Nathaniel is now in his 30s, and he wonders if his father ever had any intention of actually living with them. It has been 20 years since his father passed on, and most of his father's friends are now in their 80s. Nathaniel decides to go talk with some of them and try to get a better idea of who his dad was. He has also decided to visit all of the major buildings his father designed, hoping to get some feeling from his dad's work about what kind of person he was, and hoping to feel some connection with what his father has left behind. There is archival footage of Louis Kahn at work in his office, lecturing university students, and surveying the construction of his buildings.

    What Nathaniel discovers is that most of the people who knew Louis Kahn understood him through his work, but did not know very much about his personal life. He was a difficult man in many ways, and stories are told about how he worked his employees so hard that he would not allow one of them to leave work and be at the hospital when the man's child was born. Some of the people that Nathaniel goes to talk to are nice until they learn that he is Louis' "bastard son," and then they don't want to talk to him anymore. Some of the people tell him that his father was a genius and that his work was too big and important to allow him to focus on something as insignificant as his family. Some of the people knew about the "second family" and when they find out who Nathaniel is, they cry.

    At some point, Nathaniel discovers he has ANOTHER half-sister, also the product of his father's extra-marital affair with an employee. But that family moved on, whereas Nathaniel's mother spent her life hoping and dreaming and waiting for Louis to choose her over his wife.

    So the entire movie is a search to find out what kind of person Louis was, and for Nathaniel to sort out his feelings for his father. He wonders, are he and his half-sisters a family??? Did his father care about people, or only about buildings?

    At the end of the movie, he still doesn't have the answers about why his father did what he did, or whether his father intended to come live with them, or even if his father loved his mother at all. He finally meets his two half-sisters, he talks to aunts and uncles on both sides of his family (some of whom did not know he existed), he challenges his mother about why she never moved on and found a life companion, and finally he decides that it's time to let go of the father he never had. ... Read more


    12. Shoah
    list price: $149.99
    our price: $134.99
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    Asin: B00005JM8V
    Catlog: DVD
    Sales Rank: 9711
    Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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    Reviews (14)

    4-0 out of 5 stars Bearing Witness To History
    Watching the 9.5 hour documentary Shoah one goes through a plethora or emotions: sadness, anger and finally triumph. Shoah is living history one that we will no likely to be able to repeat as time goes on.

    Claude Lanzmann gives us a history of the Holocaust from the point of view of the participants. The survivors, the guards, the townspeople who witnessed the Final Solution firsthand. The thing that makes the film amazing is that we do not see the grisly images that were so prevalent in films like Renais Night and Fog. We simply hear voices and see faces.

    The interview technique is what makes this film so important. We are forced to look into these people's faces as they tell their stories. And they do have important stories to tell. Also we literally visit the places of destruction as they are now. We see green meadows that were once killing grounds like Sobibor or Chelmno. We see the village of Grabow now reduced of its Jewish population; we bear witness to the railside horrors of Treblinka, and the haunting desolation that was and is Auschwitz.

    The startling thing is that the people of the film have been able to rebuild their lives and go on. This is the triumph of the film. We hear horrible things to be sure but these people are true survivors.

    The DVD does not offer many extras, but then not many are needed. The end result is a sort of numb silence and this prevades the viewing. The transfer could have been a little clearer but I feel that this was more of a flaw in the source footage than a problem in the DVD creation. The only real problem with my set was on the fourth disc where there were numerous sound fall outs.

    All in all Shoah is not an easy film to watch. It takes patience and careful listening if one is to truly understand but it should be regarded as essential viewing for any would be student of history.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Powerful, devastating testimony
    I saw Shoah on PBS around the mid-80's and have never forgotten the experience. The documentary was shown in weekly installments. At first, I was just curious, but then I was drawn by the powerful testimony I was witnessing. I remember that while watching the last installments, I was weeping over the depravity and evil that was discussed by the aged survivors. At that time I was a Staff Sergeant with 15 years military service. We are tempted to turn away from the horrendous images and ignore the Holocaust as an anomaly or as something best left in the past. We want to move on. But listening to the stories and watching the faces of the survivors I knew that I must listen very carefully. I must not miss one moment of their testimony. Neither can you. Listen, watch, and learn what evil men can do to fellow man. It's a long, long film but it must be seen in its entirety.

    5-0 out of 5 stars The Best Documentary about the Holocaust
    This first aired on PBS sometime in the early to mid eighties. I was in my first couple of years of college at the time. As many of you can relate, I had lots of fun in school (especially after classes)and didn't watch much TV. For whatever reason I was at home when the first installment aired and I was hooked. Being in college, I wasn't too much of a history buff and knew little about the Holocaust. I would come home early from parties just to get to see the next installment. Since that time I have always wanted to see the documentary again and now can say I have bought it and will watch it (this time with my wife) soon.
    I had the opportunity to visit Munich some time back and didn't miss the chance to visit Dachau. Wow! What an experience... one that I shall never forget. I think watching the show this time will mean so much more than before. Make sure you get lots of Kleenex before you sit down to watch a segment.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Amazing document !
    A very important, powerful, strong and
    not an easy watch Holocust documentary.

    5-0 out of 5 stars The best made movie about the Holocaust
    It's been 17 years since I watched this movie in a hotel room in Munich on German television. Since that time Hollywood has made their own Holocaust movies, the latest being "The Pianist." By far , "Shoah" is the most meaningful movie that was made about the Holocaust. The shear hypocrisy of the Nazi's false promise to every death camp inmate of "Arbeit Macht Frei" is revealed through the words of the apathetic hypocrits who watched from the sidelines.

    It answers the question: Why could this global tragedy happen? It also answers the question: Who were these people who committed the atrocities and where were all the people who bore witness?

    The movie asks these questions of the real people who we want to know the answers from. Mr. Lanzman interviews the wife of a concentration camp commandant. Her attitude and her carefully chosen words speak volumes for what she doesn't say. She embodies evil to the nth degree. Her lack of empathy and gross disdain for the 10,000s of Jews that her husband murdered makes you sick to your stomach. And yet she is not guilty of anything more than being an accessory to mass murder and she has never spent a day of her life paying for the sins of her husband. She complains that her life after the war has been hard on her. She wants our pity.

    Mr. Lanzman interviews a peasant who lived along the rail line to Birkenau and Auschwitz. The jolly old peasant was proud of how he gesticulated to the hapless souls in the packed railcars how they would have their throats slit soon enough. The peasant made fun of how he convinced many a desparate Jew to throw him their jewelry in exchange for a cup of water - only to not give the Jew the promised water.

    There is no ray of hope. There is no triumph of good over evil. There is only the sheer will power and determination of the few survivors that now live in comfortable flats in Israel, the United States and other parts of the world. After the war, they picked themselves by their bootstraps and mentally blocked the horrors that befell upon them by the Nazis and they succeeded to live their lives.

    The conclusion I draw from this movie is to remain forever vigilant. Evil is banal. Evil can be overwhelming. Only a clear conscience, an open mind and a consistent collective voice against the darkness of evil will we keep men like Adolf Hitler from propagandizing his fellow countrymen and women into similar acts of atrocity. ... Read more


    13. Andy Goldsworthy's Rivers & Tides
    Director: Thomas Riedelsheimer
    list price: $26.95
    our price: $20.21
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    Asin: B0002JL9N6
    Catlog: DVD
    Sales Rank: 140
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    Andy Goldsworthy's Rivers and Tides is a truly beautiful, Finnish-German 2001 documentary about artist Goldsworthy, a Scotsman whose medium is nature itself and whose preferred studio is the outdoors, particularly where water forever flows, rises, and/or retreats. The soft-spoken, secluded Goldsworthy is seen hard at work making ephemeral sculptures out of bits of ice in the trees, or building tall, mysterious cones from loose rock, which stand like spiritual sentinels in forests and on shorelines, overgrown by plants or swallowed daily by high tides. Filmmaker-cinematographer Thomas Reidelsheimer goes to great and sometimes inexplicable lengths to make visual corollaries to Goldsworthy's ideas about underappreciated relationships between light, color, movement, balance, and fluidity of form in the real world, making Rivers and Tides a lively and always surprising cinematic gallery. Some of Goldsworthy's most miraculous natural installations--stone walls that snake through hundreds of feet of forest and stream, for instance--show up in the last half-hour. --Tom Keogh ... Read more


    14. Broadway - The American Musical (PBS Series)
    list price: $59.99
    our price: $44.99
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    Asin: B0002V7THY
    Catlog: DVD
    Sales Rank: 127
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    Like its fellow PBS series Ken Burns' Jazz, Broadway: The American Musical is an ambitious and absorbing exploration of a unique American art form that has always been best experienced in live performance. Hosted and narrated by Julie Andrews, the six-part, six-hour documentary traces the history of musical theater from its roots in vaudeville, operetta, and minstrel shows, to the dawn of what would become the modern American musical, Show Boat, and on through many changes that seemed to reflect those in American culture itself.Significant creators discussed include Florenz Ziegfeld, George Gershwin, Rodgers and Hammerstein, Stephen Sondheim, Bob Fosse, and David Merrick, and notable shows (Oklahoma!, My Fair Lady, West Side Story, Company, Cats, and recent hit Wicked, among others) are analyzed through performance clips and interviews with songwriters, stars, directors, producers, critics, and historians.

    The series' most obvious weakness is its use of only brief excerpts of the performances--no song is heard in full. The sheer scope of the series no doubt played a part in that, as well as complicated rights issues, but the core problem is that musical theater has always been a live medium, rarely documented and even more rarely released to the general public.The documentary's producers make do with audio recordings, still photographs, and bits of footage, often in grainy black and white.Thankfully, they resist over-relying on feature-film musicals--which look much better and are sometimes excellent (but more often mediocre) translations--and when used such footage is clearly identified.That makes it all the more frustrating, however, that almost all of the other footage is not identified, because that is what fans are less familiar with and would be most interested in.The 1950s footage looks to be mostly from TV programs such as The Ed Sullivan Show; by the 1960s we have live footage from the Tony Awards (easily identifiable by the backdrops); and the newest shows might have been shot on stage.But early Ethel Merman and other random clips are mysteries, perhaps even to the producers themselves.

    Because the series is designed to appeal to a general audience (again like Jazz), a lot of the information won't be new to diehard Broadway fans, but they should be especially pleased by the DVDs' bonus features, which include additional performances and about four more hours of interviews.Stephen Sondheim fans should be fascinated by footage of the composer-lyricist discussing "Someone in a Tree" at the piano, and then running through the song with original cast members of Pacific Overtures, as well as interviews of him talking about his own shows and songs (e.g., listing the songwriters he pastiched in Follies) and reminiscing about mentor Oscar Hammerstein II.Other bonus performances include vaudeville films from the Library of Congress, original-cast television performances of Rodgers and Hammerstein's "If I Loved You" (from Carousel, unfolding over 12 minutes) and "Some Enchanted Evening" (the reprise version from South Pacific), Rent's Jonathan Larson spoofing Sondheim, and two behind-the-scenes looks at Wicked. --David Horiuchi ... Read more


    15. Baraka (Special Collector's Edition)
    Director: Ron Fricke
    list price: $19.98
    our price: $14.99
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    Asin: B00005M91K
    Catlog: DVD
    Sales Rank: 566
    Average Customer Review: 4.63 out of 5 stars
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    Reviews (209)

    5-0 out of 5 stars Baraka will evoke joy, pity, fear, anger...and love
    Set to the music of ethnic chants and indigenous instruments from around the world, this film will compel you to see the world in a new light. You'll see beautiful vistas of terraced paddy fields, deserts, and city scapes. You'll see the dances of the aboriginees, african tribes, and amazon Indians. You'll see the faithful praying in places of worship that range from the Vatican to the shores of Ganges. In short you'll see how similar we all are beneath our different wardrobes and languages and faiths.

    The score to the movie complements the scenes and intensifies the emotions one feels watching the movie. Particularly haunting are the scenes of burning oil fields in Kuwait set to the music of Scottish bagpipes, Tibetan water music, and Japanese drumming.

    The movie explores love, faith, joy, war, death, rebirth and circle of life by showing scenes from around the world for each of these topics. Each time I have watched this movie I find myself discovering more of its hidden meanings. I think each viewer will come out with his own feelings and interpretations. But even if one isn't inclined to be philosophical, the music and cinematography alone is worth getting the DVD.

    5-0 out of 5 stars A Cultural Enlightening
    I can gaurantee this is unlike any film you've ever seen before. Baraka is not a movie with a plot or words, but it is one massive work of art, a composition with the scenery as the main "characters". This movie will open your eyes to the fact that there is a whole world of different cultures, religions, and rituals out there. It will give you chills, make you smile, make you gasp, and make you appriciate diversity. Baraka is not a film for everyone. If you are ethnocentric, you might not see the point. If you have a passion to learn and become enlightened, you will love it.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Beauty beyond words
    Baraka is a visual feast like no other, a film that begs to be seen on the largest screen possible so the viewer can absorb the grandiose feel of the images. This is the type of film that IMAX was made for. Filmed on a 70mm camera in a total of 24 countries, it is a dialogue-free film that takes the viewer around the globe into uncharted lands. The first half of the film shows us the natural beauty of earth as we are shown striking images of mountain ranges, deserts, tropical rain forests, volcanoes, solar temples, exotic animals. The whole thing is done to the tune of a spellbinding soundtrack of ambient music, Gregorian chants, flutes and other exotic sounds by world music artists such as Harmonic Choir and Dead Can Dance.

    But Baraka is much more than just National Geographic for the visually inclined. Its purpose is to give us a view of the world good and bad. And as the second half of the film unwinds, the tone of Baraka becomes increasingly dark and pessimistic as we are exposed to some of the harsh realities of the world like homelessness, poverty, slave labour, hunger. Horrifying images of tree-chopping, sweatshops, subway-cramming in Tokyo and scenes in a chicken factory will make many cringe and think twice about eating chicken for a while. But sometimes even within these backdrops of despair can be found things that are beautiful such as the joy and happiness on children's faces despite growing up in poverty-stricken 2nd world countries. These kids grow up with practically no material possessions yet they seem so HAPPY, much happier than kids of first-world countries who grow up with any material object their heart desires.

    Baraka is certainly not the kind of film we are used to seeing. I struggled with it for the first 10 minutes or so but then immediately fell under its spell and forgot that I was watching a film with no dialogue. Sometimes it's nice to be able to flick off the brain, not worry about following a story and just let oneself be absorbed by what's on screen, and that's what this film does. The only minor squabbles I had were the absence of writing on the screen to let us know where in the world we are and that the film did peter out a little towards the end. Baraka is a film worth purchasing that will stand well to multiple viewings and might even make some think twice about where their real priorities ought to be.

    1-0 out of 5 stars Save time & shoot yourself in the head
    If your interested in seeing what the film claims to be, " a transcendently poetic, world-wide tour of the globe blah blah blah ..speaks directly to the soul" - dont bother, it dosent happen. Instead you will find about 10 minutes of lovely scenery followed by lengthy film of poverty, cruelty and torture, including images of baby chicks having their beaks burnt off, graphic pictures of death camps and over-worked donkeys collapsing and dying (?!). Anyone who finds this "visually stimulating" needs psychiatric help.
    Fair enough if the film would actually indicate that your in for a visual experience depicting the apparent desperate state of the world, but there is no indication whatsoever of this pathetic morbidness in filmmaking, in fact it is offensive that the cover would suggest what lies within is even remotely "beautiful". Anyone who insists on watching it plse think twice before scaring your children with it - and if the film does have one worth-while message it is nothing to do with cinematography, its simply this : Think twice where your next KFC wing came from! And is it worth it ?

    5-0 out of 5 stars You'll watch it again and again
    Lets not kid ourselves. This is awe inspiring and captivating film. This review tackles all those who haven't rated it 5 stars. Most of these have seen earlier work by Godfrey Reggio and Ron Fricke. The only thing that separates these earlier works is that some people prefer them over this. In truth, the films are very similiar in technique, time-lapse and camera angles with the only differences being editing, music and locations.
    In earlier work Philip Glass composed the music which was appropriate and brilliant (although now slightly dated) and in Baraka, Michael Stearn tried to meld the music to the location. Michael Stearn -in my opinion- creating the better atmosphere.
    If you've not seen any of these following Chronos, Koyaanisqatsi, & Powaqqatsi. Then see Baraka, as it is the superior film and tends build on methods, techniques and angles visited in the previous films. I'd also like to mention Alton Walpole who doesn't seem to get much say in reviews, but he's also had an active part in all of these films and part of the 3 main people behind these films.
    When you see it make sure that it's on the biggest screen possible, with the best sound system possible in a dark room. And let the music and film take you on the journey that is Baraka. ... Read more


    16. Hoop Dreams - Criterion Collection
    list price: $29.95
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    Asin: B0007WFYBG
    Catlog: DVD
    Sales Rank: 296
    Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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    Amazon.com essential video

    This completely absorbing three-hour documentary follows the lives of two inner-city African American teenage basketball prodigies as they move through high school with long-shot dreams of the NBA, superstardom, and an escape from the ghetto. Taking cues from such works as Michael Apted's 35 Up, director Steve James and associates shot more than 250 hours of footage, spanning more than six years, and their completed work actually moves like an edge-of-the-seat drama, so brimming with tension, plot twists, successes, and tragedies that its length--170 minutes--is never an issue. Yet, what makes the film more impressive is how James moves his scope beyond a competitive sports drama (although the movie has plenty of terrific, nail-biting basketball footage) and addresses complex social issues, creating a scathing social commentary about class privilege and racial division. The film opens by introducing William Gates and Arthur Agee, two Chicago hopefuls, as they are being courted and recruited by various high schools to play ball, and continues until the pair are college freshmen. James allows the audience the experience of not only watching their journeys and daily routines (it's a sobering portrait of inner-city life), but also witnessing their maturation. Each takes a separate path along the way, stumbling over several obstacles (William suffers injuries, Arthur fails to meet his coach's high expectations); but James takes particular care to stress the importance and strong commitment of each character's family along the way, giving the film a essential center. The parents and siblings emerge with as much depth and complexity as the two main "characters," and turn Hoop Dreams into an unforgettable film experience. --Dave McCoy ... Read more

    Reviews (40)

    5-0 out of 5 stars Great Documentary
    I turned on ESPN and saw this and I soon got entranced by it.
    It follows the stories of two High School Basketball prodigies.
    Being a fan of all the prospects I knew I must watch this movie. The two kids William Graves and Arthur Agee were both guards from the Inner City Chicago and they were both many of the basketball prodigees. I turned in to see there Freshman years William was one of St. Josephs school and was a starter something that even Isiah Thomas was not at the same school.
    The other guy was Agee who was the starter for the Freshman team. He ran into his problems with the school and by the time they both entered there sophomore year Agee was having trouble with the School and had to transfer to a Inner City School.
    Graves was called the "Next Isiah" by many folks in Illinois.
    in 1985 his brother Corey was compared to Michael Jordan but his career did not pan out. By there Junior year William had a serious knee injury and Arthur had school and team troubles. He worked hard to help his team out. By this time William had a daughter Alicia. By the time of the start of there Senior season William was invited to the prestigious ABCD Basketball camp presented by Nike. This tournament is the very best High School players by there year. His year just happened to be the class of 1991 a class that had the Fab 5 in it and also had the likes of Glenn Robinson and others. 1991 was a great year. William was injured again over the summer and was blasted by the coach of his school. Artur Agee had to get his life in line. Arthur was being scouted by many schools but chose Marquette. Arthur chose a Junior College in Missouri. There senior years were different the top team St.Josephs had a succesful but disapointing season and Arthur's school won city championships including a win over the number one team in the Nation. They would loose in the state quarters.After High School they both graduated college and Arthur played in the ABL
    and William had a brief stint with the Wizzards in 2001.

    5-0 out of 5 stars HOOP DREAMS STILL ALIVE
    Simply put, this is the best basketball movie ever made... and in my opinion, the best documentary ever.
    I am looking forward to the follow-up sequel to see what happened to Arthur and William.
    This movie is absolutely brilliant, and couldn't have been better if it was written.Everyone should view it, if not own it.
    FIVE STARS.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Follow Up Film in the Works
    For those who enjoyed this film, the New York Times has reported that Criterion is backing the film-makers in creating an entirely new film that follows up on the lives of these two men.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Wonderful documentary
    'Hoop Dreams' is one of the best documentaries ever made, in fact it may be one of the best films ever made.

    It follows the stories of two young African American men (William Gates and Arthur Agee) and their families as they attempt to realise their dreams and escape the ghetto through basketball. The documentary follows the boys through four years of High School and on to college.

    It is a moving, sometimes heartbreaking film that allows you to accompany the boys on their journey and on the way provides great insight into the wider issues. In many ways Hoop Dreams is a classical documentary - the filmmakers shot hours footage and then edited it down to the three hour film. There is very little editorial, they simply show us the edited highlights of what they recorded and allow the viewers to draw their own conclusions. This approach allows the filmmakers (and us) to examine not just high-school basketball but also the wider racial and social issues.

    I am not sure that it is possible to spoil the plot of a documentary but if you want it to be a surprise, read no further....

    The story beings with St Joseph's - an up market high school - recruiting both boys on partial scholarships. William is an instant success - even from the brief clips it is obvious he has an amazing talent for basketball - he makes the school first team as a freshman (very uncommon) and looks to have a professional career in front of him. Arthur is a different story. He has talent but he seems to lack the maturity to utilise it and he is kicked out of school at the end of his freshman year for unpaid school fees. William, the potential star, has been found a personal sponsor who pays the rest of his tuition ensuring that he can stay in school, there is a strong implication that if Arthur had been a better player sponsorship would have been found for him as well. The school emerges with no great credit over their treatment of Arthur as over the next few years they ruthlessly pursue his family for the money, withholding his school records to make life very difficult for him at his new school. Sadly things turn sour for William as well, he gets injured and then re-injured playing when he should not. Although his physical injuries heal he is never the same player again.

    Even from the start, the extent to which their families are pinning all their hopes on the two boys is terrifying and heartbreaking (we know the odds are stacked against them). They both live in a very poor and dangerous neighbourhood - with the other members of their family working at minimum wage jobs to try to keep the family afloat - basketball is their only way out, their only chance to live the American dream. William has an older brother, Curtis, who had the talent but not the temperament to make it as a basketball player; he now lives vicariously through William, simply adding to the pressure. Arthur's dad has problems with drugs and domestic violence that tear his family apart.

    There can be few more tragic scenes ever filmed than the segment showing Arthur shooting hoops at the local playground while his Dad scores drugs in the background. Equally unforgettable is the scene where Arthur, just before he leaves for college, plays basketball with his Dad and the years of repressed anger explode. In many ways the most memorable moment from the whole film is the line uttered by William at the end; it seems to sum up the predicament of these boys. "People say, 'When you make it to the NBA, don't forget about me.' I feel like telling them, 'Well, if I don't make it, make sure you don't forget about me.' "

    This is a fabulous film - watch it you can find it - you will not be disappointed. The only disappointment is that the DVD does not provide an update to what happened to the two boys and their families

    5-0 out of 5 stars Best sport...Best Film
    I, too, have long waited for this DVD to come out. I have a grainy copy of the film off of our local PBS station, as well as the reunion show that PBS had several years after the movie was out. Hopefully, this DVD would have more recent news on the boys. Agee had subpar hoop skills but was so doggone focused on making it to the pros, he could not/would not accept/realize the truth when it was slapping him right on the face, that though his love for the game was immeasurable, his skills were limited. And you need skills to make it in Division 1 colege hoops and more so in the NBA. To be used by a USBL team hoping to ride his coattails and signing him, that was sad. Yet through it all, Agee believed he belong. In contrast, Gates had superior hoop skills but tore his ACL and frankly had better things to do then being eslaved by the game as Agee was. I think Gates' decision making and accepting reality spoke volumes about the kid's character. He knew where his priorities lie, as husband, as a father, as a son. Finally, I think Agee's mother was a strong force in this film as well, and in her family's life. Her story of how she empowered herself, to better herself, within the challenging environment she was in was simply inspirational. Her story had nothing to do with hoops, but it was a strong storyline in the film. This is absolutely the best basketball movie ever made. Bar-none. It's amazing that people still think that "Hossiers" is the best hoops movie ever made, even professional ballplayers think this! You simply cannot beat REAL LIFE. Amazing movie, hopefully, even more amazing DVD. ... Read more


    17. Jazz - A Film By Ken Burns
    list price: $179.99
    our price: $161.99
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    Asin: B0002KPI2I
    Catlog: DVD
    Sales Rank: 8723
    Average Customer Review: 3.47 out of 5 stars
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    Reviews (118)

    5-0 out of 5 stars The Best Series on Jazz, Despite Its Flaws
    I am a jazz musician, son of a jazz musician, am conservatory trained, and this series stands toe to toe with the best lectures by the best music historians and music theory experts I have studied with. If Ken Burns chose to follow a the pillars of jazz in depth rather than give ten minutes to every musician to come along in the past hundred years, we are better for it. If you want ten minutes on each musician, read liner notes. Mr. Burns series will be remembered precisely because it does go into such depth. Bird, Duke, Pops and Dizzie do not come clear to you without much study. We should be grateful for the fact that this series is anything but shallow. It is true to the art. If this series, because of such depth, asks more of viewers than they want to give, then let such viewers only seeking entertainment seek that. Americans, everything is not entertainment.

    Jazz itself, from its outset and to this very day, asks more of you than any other music. A series about it should do no less.

    This series is not perfect. Jazz is also imperfect. As Thelonius Monk said, there are no wrong notes. So are there no bad jazz documentaries, as long as they are unflinching, whole, and about the forces that shaped the music. This one is. It's only real flaw is that it is too in love with its own story and the music. That is entirely forgiveable.

    If you have any interest in jazz, buy or rent this series and watch each one like a student, and learn in wonder at the extraordinary music brought to us by African Americans. It is one of the glories of American culture, and of the world, and we should join Ken Burns, his historians, critics and musicians in joyously celebrating the collective creation of the geniuses that graced our land in the past 100 years.

    5-0 out of 5 stars "History," "Documentary," "Theory of" are not in the title.
    The negative reviews of this series assume that Burns is compiling a documentary, writing a historical survey, or undertaking some theoretical analysis of jazz. Burns is above all a biographer. His primary interest is in the life of a particular artist, solider, athlete, explorer, etc.: the overall trajectory of their lives--the choices they make, the risks they are or aren't willing to take, their sufferings in the face of prejudice, misunderstanding, and failure--and how the individual life fits within the larger social context. Hence his emphasis on annecdote, personal letter and photograph, character analysis, and why he has baseball players and actors and club owners as well as scholars and musicians commenting on these people. And why he traces the entire career of someone like Louis Armstrong or Billy Holiday, rather than devoting more time to contemporary muscians whose story it is still too young to be told. Everything else is secondary to this main concern, and to miss this focus is to miss the point of all Ken Burns' documentaries. To grasp it is to experience life within a wider, wiser, almost epic, context. The so-called jazz expert who is miffed over some apparent omission, or overemphasis, or seeming bias, is like the librarian who has all the books catalogued and all the facts at their fingertips but can't see that they might refer to something outside the four walls of their narrow expertise.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Provides a very useful orientation
    Jazz is a relatively recent interest for me--maybe half a dozen years. I'd learned about scattered fragments of jazz, but never developed a systematic understanding, a clear orientation--though a couple of times I'd tried: I bought Gary Giddons' "Visions of Jazz," for instance, which is very good but just didn't capture my imagination.

    Ken Burns' "Jazz" gave me what I've been wanting for years--a clear, evocative, comprehensive way into the genre as a whole.

    Okay, it may not be the last word on the history of jazz. Yeah, some things really irritated me--like the slighting, mentioned by many, of Bill Evans, and the excessive excision of many white musicians to make the generally accurate point that jazz springs more from the experience of Black Americans. (Hint to Burns: You make your argument stronger by showing how apparently contrary data fit, not by leaving them out.) But over all, I found this a very helpful overview. And I enjoyed getting to know the biographies of, and the personal relations among, the players.

    You won't likely get such an orientation from buying a few of the original CDs *instead* of the "Jazz" series. Few of us have the ears or training to discern what's taught in this series. You'd be highly unlikely to realize that, for instance, what was new with Be-Bop is improvising on the underlying chord changes rather than the melody. You'd really have to be perceptive and paying attention to notice what distinguishes Kansas City jazz from New Orleans jazz from New York jazz from West Coast jazz. And *no* album can place *itself* in history. For instance, you cannot learn from listening to an album featuring Coleman Hawkins-or Charlie Christian or Kenny Clarke--that *before* that album people played very differently. In short, you'd have to be far better trained musically and far more observant than most of us are, and listen to dozens (if not hundreds) of albums, to learn what this series teaches.

    As I watched over a period of a couple of weeks, I bought several of the CDs that Burns produced to survey the music, and I found them very instructive. No, as listening experiences, they're not as good as some of the various albums on which the cuts originated. But that's not the point: They are very good ways to get an overview, to get oriented, to know where to go next.

    After seeing this series and studying the accompanying CDs, when I go into the music store and start perusing the jazz disks, I find that I recognize a whole lot more and can surmise a whole lot better what's what and what would interest me. For instance, tonight I saw "From Spirituals to Swing," a three CD set of Carnegie Hall jazz concerts in 1938 and 1939. A month ago, the list of personnel would have meant near-nothing to me--I probably wouldn't have even known what I was looking at, and I doubt I would have looked at the thing for more than thirty seconds. Now, though, I studied and comprehended the personnel and got all excited--"This I gotta hear." So I bought it, and it's great.

    Now, isn't that reason enough to recommend this series?

    That the overall interpretive framework of the series may need correction is not a trenchant criticism, in my opinion. To get a comprehensive understanding of anything, you have to start with *some* systematic framework, which you can then modify, maybe even refute, as you encounter further data. Logically, the first such framework you acquire has to come from someone else, unless you are a genius of extremely wide learning.

    No, Ken Burns' "Jazz" isn't the only guide to jazz you'll ever need--as others have noted, some of the omissions are glaring. But it's fine place to start.

    If you really want to get a sense of jazz, this is an excellent investment, in my opinion. Yeah, it's pricey--but cheaper than, say, an adult education course on jazz appreciation at your local community college (if you include texts and other supporting material). And if you don't want to spend the money--well, you can hint real hard to your significant other that you'd like it for your birthday or Valentine or some such thing.

    Postscript: I almost didn't buy this because of the characterization of Wynton Marsalis's role by several other reviewers here. I'd never much liked his music--it always seemed too cerebral, almost architectural, for my tastes--chilly, not very visceral. (That's just my personal taste--I also find most of Ella Fitzgerald--except her duo wok with Armstrong--a bit emotionally distant, unlike Sarah Vaughan or Billie Holiday or Carmen McRae or many others.)

    I was skeptical about any documentary that made Marsalis the central story teller.

    Well, two things: (1) He just isn't the central story teller here. He does not have anything approaching the majority of commentator air time. It is certainly true that he plays a role analogous to Shelby Foote's in "The Civil War"--he is a unifying presence, especially in the early going and toward the end. This is just good film making--to establish "characters" whose presence throughout helps give unity to the piece. (2) I really liked Wynton in this documentary. He came off as much earthier, more laid back, mischievous, funnier and more fun, than I ever would have imagined. And he is really quite illuminating, especially when he explains various musical concepts--like the "Big 4." (I went back and listened to "Thick in the South," thinking maybe I'd like his music more now. Nope. Still feels too thought-out, too chilly, to me. Oh, well.)

    3-0 out of 5 stars Could have been so much better
    I guess it says something that I have gone back and watched Burns' "Civil War" documentary more than a dozen times since I first saw it, and have only watch "Jazz" once since the first time. The Civil War documentary certainly is rife with factual inaccuracies but by & large gets the essential story of the conflict right. "Jazz," on the other hand, treats its subject as though the last 40-50 years never happened. It is as though the Civil War documentary would have lingered over the years 1861-1863 incessantly, then sped through the last two years ("Oh yeah, there were a couple of battles, Atlanta burned, Lee surrendered, the war was over. The end." Something like that) as though they didn't matter.

    As I found the documentary going into its umpteenth hour and we STILL weren't out of the 1930's yet, I had a bad feeling about where this was going. You would have thought that Louis Armstrong had been annointed as the Jazz Pope and he ruled over the world of jazz for 40 years. In his proper context, Armstrong is very important, but Burns seems positively fixated on him. He dwells on every facet of Armstrong's upbringing & early career. Unless he planned on making a 60-hour documentary, there was no way Burns could hope to do justice to the more recent history of the genre, and sure enough he basically hits the fast forward button once the be-bop era is coming to a close.

    Personally, I cannot stand fushion jazz, but nonetheless some mention needs to made of a style that was dominant in jazz for almost as long as the swing style, for crying out loud. Also, relying almost exculsively on Wynton Marsalis (doing his best impression of a crochety old man on his front porch, railing at a world that has passed him by) really was not a good idea & imbues the entire documentary with a hopelessly retrograde flavor.

    I watched it once, and came away disappointed. I watched it a second time, hoping that I could find more to appreciate, but only found that it continued to disappoint. I don't know if it merits any future viewings, and that is indeed a shame, because it is a subject that deserves better treatment than this.

    4-0 out of 5 stars Excellent for what it is
    It's surprizing how vociferously some "snobs" condemn "Jazz" simply because it's not as comprehensive as they seem to think it should be. From reading these reviews you would think Ken Burns is a half-step above a holocaust-denier for not including Roland Kirk or Eric Dolphy. "Jazz" is a wonderful, inspiring and, yes, traditional look at the art form. Newcomers shouldn't be dissuaded because it's not as complete as it should be. ... Read more


    18. The Complete Walking with... Collection
    list price: $59.98
    our price: $45.82
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    Asin: B000069HW4
    Catlog: DVD
    Sales Rank: 2908
    Average Customer Review: 4.92 out of 5 stars
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    Description

    Finally all three programs from the Emmy Award-winning Walking with... series--Walking with Dinosaurs, Allosaurus: A Walking with Dinosaurs Special, and Walking with Prehistoric Beasts--are available for the first time as a collector's set on DVD. The epic begins with a journey back 65 million years ago to a virtual lost world which has been recreated with spectacular digital effects and animatronics. The series continues as we follow the life and death struggles of "Big Al," the most complete allosaurus skeleton ever found. And finally, we explore our planet after the reign of the dinosaur and the succession of extraordinary creatures that came and went over the following millennia. The end of the dinosaur was only the beginning! ... Read more

    Reviews (13)

    5-0 out of 5 stars NOT a complete SET!!!!!
    The series is, in my opinion, nothing less than outstanding. HOWEVER, what is being offered as a complete set is, in fact, missing the latest DVD, "Walking With Cavemen." Hope this information proves helpful to both the sellers and buyers.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Simply Fantastic - Beyond 5 Stars
    Everyone has summed it up, this is a good as it gets in the doco world. Pure, undiluted quality. Fantastic animation, production values, narration and all around a+ performance, many of the effects in this series would not look out of place in a feature film, indeed the guys at Framestore have gotten so good at doing this they beat ILM at their own game at times IMO.

    However, it's not really the 'complete' Walking with Collection, there have been 5 new episodes since this was released in the form of the BBC's followup new 'Chased by Dinosaurs' series (known as special episodes of Walking with Dinosaurs in the UK though still). They covered big dinosaurs like Argentionsaurus and the Gigantosaurus and lots of sea creatures like the giant shark Megadolon. Definitely worth checking out if you're a fan of the series.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Monumental product
    1000 words cannot describe the incredible graphics and presentation quality of this series. I consider these stories, based on real science and a monumental effort, to change the way we have thought of the earth millions of years ago. The dinosaurs in Walking With Dinosaurs are very real, maybe too real for young viewers, but believable and memorable. This $60 purchase could be the best investment in DVDs that can be bought. I have watched select story lines from the collection over and over without disappointment. Hence the purchase keeps on giving unlike the rest of my DVD purchases.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Ultimate dinosaur dvd set for kids too
    This set is a must have for any dinosaur lover. My future paleontologists, Will (5 years) and Annelise (2 years), watched these every day for the first six months. We've had the set for a year now, and we still watch about twice a month. Whenever a playmate comes over, he or she requests watching a dvd from the Walking With collection. The kids especially like to watch in the van. They are fun to view, informative, well-organized, beautiful, timeless and interesting for all ages.

    5-0 out of 5 stars An Excellent Special
    I'm not really a big fan of buying DVDs for specials or films that have already been shown on TV> Why would I want to pay $60 for a DVD of a show that I saw for free on Discovery Chanel? However the shows shown on Discovery channel are the exception to my rule. And "Walking With Dinosaurs" is one of the best.

    This special is worth every penny of the advertised price if you can't find it airing on TV anytime soon. For a TV special, the effects were some of the best I've seen on television. The combination of computer generated and animatronic dinosaurs looked incredible, and really give you the feeling that we were able to capture these creatures on video. The great thing about this special is that, unlike traditional documentaries, they used the scientific evidence they had found to create a story, as they did with "Allosaurus."

    Overall, while I tihnk that maybe this DVD would be a little better value around $40, the specials are, without a doubt, the best nature specials I have ever seen. ... Read more


    19. Vietnam - A Television History
    list price: $79.95
    our price: $71.96
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: B0001WTWOC
    Catlog: DVD
    Sales Rank: 6763
    Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars
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    Reviews (10)

    5-0 out of 5 stars An Incredible Documentary
    Vietnam: A Television History is a phenomenal documentary on the before, during and after of the American War. 14 hours and worth the time! You can watch invididual segments one hour at a time.

    It's a remarkable piece for understanding this conflict. The video is rich with battle and geographic details...far reaching in its interviews of North and South Vietnamese as well as American voices...textured with information on virtually every angle (CIA involvement, the reaction in the U.S., Cambodia and Laos, etc.)...and told in a clear and gripping format. It explained a war I previously could not quite understand, and also provided a huge amount of information not found in most American shorthand retellings of the war. Hugely recommended for anyone interested in the war or interested in Southeast Asia.

    5-0 out of 5 stars This is visual war history without precedent
    After seeing the series, one by one, and every which way, I can only come to the conclusion: unparalleled history. Only a doctrinere bigot and a mad-dog at that, would see how it tries to be balanced-- any rational being would see as America's greatest surrender and tragedy--so far--the Irag debacle is still underweigh. Of course, one is expected to read more, to not think this is the last word on the Vietnam War. How ridiculous! Previewed in 1983, no one should think there should be more evidence presented. Only in time, well-tested opinions and with all the evidence in, can a clear perspective be seen of the whole. I lived in that era, the Nixon era to be exact, when I understood what was happening. Before which, in my teens and brought up in rural Maine, I thought America could not be wrong, the government was right, Communionist were evil haters of our way of life. When I understood, I was against. But I was not all the way, my disagreement was fully conditional. It was Watergate and finally Reagan that made me see my intuition against the Vietnam War was right. It was not a good feeling. I did not want to think it was all in vein. I did not want to accept the inevitable. This documentary is the best balanced visual history of its kind on a post-WW2 (cold gone hot) war, from the first misunderstand to the last revisionist spin.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Great reference tool!
    I had to rent this tape set for school as there was a college course on Vietnam, but decided to buy it instead! I am glad I did because I can pass this down to my daughter. It was an honest account of not only the war, but the history of the country as well, which I found interesting! Worth the money!

    4-0 out of 5 stars caution about reviewer's advice
    This is a good video as introduction to the War.
    It could be updated based on what we've learned since relations thawed somewhat with Vietnam.
    Caution about one reviewer's advice to watch the Accuracy-In-Media rejoinder to the program:
    See it. It is horrible; the video pieces don't show what they say they do; Charleton Heston narrates a sappy poem about boat people; and the head of AIM later, when confronted with the shows innacuracies said that they don't matter --- all that matters is its anti-communist point-of-view. Some "accuracy"!

    2-0 out of 5 stars So This is History?
    This series is not solid history. There are two essential facts you must get right to start with in order to interpret the Vietnam war. First you must understand who Ho Chi Minh was and second you must understand the nature of the Geneva Conference of 1954. Third, in order to understand why the U.S. lost one must be understand the critical importance of two decisions made during the administration of John Kennedy. First, the 1962 Geneva Accords which created the "facade of Geneva" and prevented the U.S. from selecting a winning strategy (i.e., cutting the Ho Chi Minh Trail). See Norman Hannah's book, "The Key to Failure: Laos the Vietnam War." Second, you must understand the unethical decision made by the Kennedy administration in backing the coup against Ngo Dinh Diem that resulted in his assasination and a deeper immersion of the U.S. into the military government we created without even knowing the makeup of the characters in it. Read "A Death in November: American in Vietnam, 1963" by Ellen Hammer. The point is the war is hugely complex and the video series is not. It is extremely biased, Ho Chi Minh, a dedicated international communist is the hero! and the U.S. is the villain. The
    It is only in video 13 that the producers discover that the communists are bad guys and it is a belated discovery! So they killed one third of the population in Cambodia, subjected Vietnam to hellish re-education/prison camps and produced millions of deaths, not to mention two million or so boat people who fled the country. This is the regime of a nationalist? But they constantly produce a dialog heavy in ideology, communist ideology. Perhaps that is a concidence, like their land reform program that killed off the landlord class or their police state. Just coincidences I am sure, after all, Uncle Ho was a nationalist wasn't he? The video series never takes the trouble to examine the Soviet Union or Communist China's role in the Vietnam war in any depth. It is as if all of history is understood by psychoanalysis of the what goes on in Washington. I use this series in the classroom to teach students how to detect bias in a badly flawed historical series and while there is some good history in it, there is far too much that is poorly done and now, outdated, given new information. Even communist histories belie some of the points made in the series. Hanoi now admits that planning for the war in the South began in 1956 and was well along in 1959, when the 15th Party Plenum ordered armed struggle in the South to begin. For example, Communist Party Politburo member Le Duan was responsible for the formation of 37 guerilla companies by October 1957. The respected Soviet diplomat, Andre Gromyko, said of Joseph Stalin in his Memoirs, "it seems to me that the nature had endowed him with the ability to hide the harsh side of his character, and very effectively so. He also seems to have had the capacity to appear at times even gentle and sensitive to others. The conversations he had with some foreign personalities, especially writers, confirm this." These words could have written about the man who called himself "Ho Chi Minh" or "He who enlightens." His frail and gentle manner belie the harsh, ruthless man beneath the veneer. In fact, having studied him for many years, I would have to say he was one of the greatest actors of the twentieth century and one of its most evil men. The key to understanding him lies in understanding what brought tears to his eyes. It was not the nation but rather Lenin's "thesis on national and colonial questions" which called for international communist liberation of oppressed peoples from colonialism. The trouble is so many fail to study this and therefore miss the import of Ho's ardor for the doctrine. Nationalism is the foe of internationalism and communism embraces only the latter. This is clear from Lenin's writings. Recommend you read Lenin! There is a video series that attempts to correct some of the errors (Television's Vietnam: The Real Story) in this one and although, it carries some biases of its own, it does help to bring out some of the worst features of this seris. It is put out by Accuracy in Media and is worth your effort to investigate if you are going to view this poorly done series. On the Tonkin Gulf incident, the Canadian series, the Ten Thousand Day War, is far superior. It seems American film makers are more enamored with Uncle Ho than his own people. Ask them if you don't believe me. ... Read more


    20. Evolution Boxed Set
    list price: $99.95
    our price: $89.96
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: B00005RG6J
    Catlog: DVD
    Sales Rank: 9857
    Average Customer Review: 3.58 out of 5 stars
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    The long, long story of evolution is told very well in this extensive eight-hour series originally shown on PBS. The production begins with a dramatization of the struggles of Charles Darwin in a two-hour film aptly titled "Darwin's Dangerous Idea." Scenes of actors portraying Darwin and his contemporaries are supplemented by interviews with experts such as Stephen Jay Gould. In further installments, various topics related to evolution, such as major transformations of species, the intellectual development of humans, the phenomenon of animal extinction, and even the organized opposition to evolutionary theory by religious fundamentalists, are discussed with considerable depth. Interview segments with scholars (and their opponents) are accompanied by extraordinary visuals, including some computer-generated sequences (such as one illustrating how whales left land and evolved in the oceans) that are dazzling. This series, which is narrated by actor Liam Neeson, is a remarkably intelligent and entertaining approach to a fascinating topic.--Robert J. McNamara ... Read more

    Reviews (31)

    4-0 out of 5 stars The PBS TV Series, -not- the David Duchovny film..
    This series has very well chosen scientists who say very interesting things. Several of my favorite authors including Peter D. Ward, Simon Conway Morris, and Stephen Jay Gould provide explanations for their ideas on the subject. Compared to similar efforts, the animations of Burgess Shale organisms are a bit stiff and unrealistic. And it's maddening that all of the DNA helices seen in animations are left-handed, i.e. the mirror image of what DNA really looks like. But this series is touching all the right bases, from my p.o.v. and provides much valuable food for thought.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Informative, Well Produced, Timely
    This is a DVD Boxed set that belongs on every shelf, period. While highly informative and very well presented, it is also entertaining to watch. Before I knew it, I had watched through the entire series and was wanting even more! I wish that more had been done in the series, particularly an episode dedicated to the budding science of Evolutionary Psychology for example.

    It provides an exacting overview of Evolutionary Theory in our current understanding. At the same time, it provides well explained and detailed analysis of the evidence that has been building behind the theory over the last century or more. Of interest to some was the time spent on the debate between Evolution and Creation *Science*, with a full hour dedicated to the issues of faith and science in and out of the classroom.

    All in all, entertaining and informative to the open minded, likely an affront to the closed minded, this boxed set comes HIGHLY recommended for anyone regardless. Easily worth more than it costs.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Evolution is fact
    There have been bad reviews for this series. Creationist say things like there is evidence for creation and that there is no evidence for evolution. This series proves them wrong. It shows convincing facts that evolution is real. Evolution is the fact that all life came from lower life over millions of years. Creation is the religous fariy tale that the earth was created by god in 6 days less than 10,000 years ago. Creationist say major scientists don't believe in evolution but 96% of scientists believe in evolution. This series shows evolution has been proven and observed. Creationists say there is evidence for creation and this series doesn't show it. The evidence doesn't exist and if the slightest piece of evidence exists than I would be a creationist. If you are a creationist watch this series it will help you see the light. No evolution is not athisum since god is the one who controls evolutions path. The fossil record, DNA, early embryos say evolution and they believe a book written by ancients. I think that creationist should stop writting false reviews and saying there is evidence without evidence existing. So get evidence or get out. Watch this series and see what the creationist are hiding from you.

    1-0 out of 5 stars Not one shred of evidence for accidental life...0 Stars
    There is not one shred of evidence that life can, or ever did, spontaneously start apart from infinitely complex design pre-existing the formation of living cells. This series is based on old science that has been discredited. Forget the faith and religion issue for a moment. Spontaneous accidental generation of life cannot and did not happen. No scientist has ever gotten close to proving such a preposterous idea, and yet most still hide this fact. Why is this the case? Because if life and creation were in FACT created, then EVERYTHING changes. We are NOT alone living a purposeless, meaningless existence. This DVD and the PBS series is about human intellectual arrogance more than it is about truth. Is evolution as a scietific force somehow intrinsically designed into living things? Clearly! Did evolution accidentally start or design life on Earth? Ridiculous! That is a leap of faith only an idiot can make.

    4-0 out of 5 stars Interesting but long
    I watched 7 out of 8 episodes in two days. It may be educational for people who didn't know much about it, but if you are somewhat familiar with the topics, this documentary film didn't offer much more. ... Read more


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