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ANSEL ADAMS

One would almost expect a documentary about a still photographer to be dull, but then again, not every photographer is someone of the caliber of Ansel Adams. Without question, Adams is the greatest landscape photographer of all time. His black and white photographs of the American landscape are certainly some of them most stirring and haunting images ever created with a camera. Capturing this subject, as well as Adams captured the American landscape, is the Ric Burns documentary ANSEL ADAMS ($20), which aired on the PBS program The American Experience. Combining archival footage, stills photographs, as well as interviews and numerous examples of Ansel Adams’ work, this documentary provides a fascinating portrait of its subject, who was not only a brilliant photographer, but also a musician and a man at the forefront of the conservationist movement.

ANSEL ADAMS comes to DVD from Warner Home Video through their association with PBS Video. The program is presented in a 1.78:1 wide screen presentation that has been enhanced for playback on 16:9 displays. The program always looks good, although ANSEL ADAMS does come from mixed media, making it difficult to assess in the same way as a theatrical film. Adams' photographs never fail to impress, as does some of the newer location photography of the photographer’s favorite stomping grounds, including Yosemite National Park. Other period photographs and vintage stock footage have a worn appearance, which is sometimes rough looking. Newer color interview footage has a decided documentary quality. Digital compression artifacts are never a cause for concern during the one hundred minute program.

The Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo soundtrack decodes to standard surround in a fairly effective manner. Dialogue is clean and warm sounding, while remaining localized to the center channel. Music and sound effects have decent stereo imaging and the surround channels add just a bit of ambient sound to the proceedings. Fidelity is good for this type of program and there are no appreciable defects in the sound reproduction. The basic interactive menus provide access to the standard scene selection feature. There are no real supplemental features included on the DVD, other than a promo for The American Experience series.

ANSEL ADAMS is a fascinating portrait of one of the greatest still photographers of the twentieth century. Watching this film made me want to run out and acquire some of Adams’ work in both book and art print form. If you are familiar with the work of Ansel Adams, the documentary is a good way to get to know the man behind the photographs. If you are unfamiliar with Adams, then the documentary serves as a good introduction to him and his work.

 

ANSEL ADAMS 


Ansel Adams - A Documentary Film (2002)

ENHANCED FOR 16:9 TELEVISIONS 


DVD reviews are Copyright © 2003 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.


 

 

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