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One of the most exciting aspects of the acceptance of the DVD format is the fact that more and more alternative programming is finding its way to disc, instead of just appearing on VHS cassette. EVEREST: THE DEATH ZONE is the kind of program of which I speak. This hour-long episode from the long running PBS series NOVA has made its way to DVD via WGHB Boston Video and retails for $19.95.

EVEREST: THE DEATH ZONE was produced and directed by David Breashears, the award-winning director responsible for the breathtaking IMAX film EVEREST. Narrated Jodie Foster, this hour long NOVA program takes a close, hard look at the effects of oxygen deprivation on a group of mountain climbers going up the face of the world's highest peak- Mt. Everest. The journey begins at the mountain's base camp, a mere 17,600 feet above sea level, then follows the climbers as they make the tortuous ascent to Mt. Everest's 29,028-foot peak. As the atmosphere becomes thinner and thinner on the way up, viewers will see how the human body forced to work harder to intake its minimum requirement of oxygen. All throughout the climb, scientists continually monitor the climbers, through a series of experiments. This, they hope, will help explain the 1996 tragedy on Mt. Everest, in which eight climbers perished in a single day. EVEREST: THE DEATH ZONE is a interesting program that contains impressive footage of the mountain that continually challenges climbers, as well as contrasting images of Mt. Everest's victims that litter the route to the summit.

EVEREST: THE DEATH ZONE is well transferred to DVD, offering image quality superior to broadcast television. Since this is a documentary television program, one can't expect the look of a Hollywood theatrical film. However, everything appears sharp and well defined. Colors are usually clear and vivid, without any distortion. MPEG-2 compression artifacts are not readily detectable.

The Dolby Digital 2.0 channel soundtrack decodes to Dolby Surround. But again, don't expect the motion picture experience from this program. Clean, clear sounding dialogue and ambient effects are the mainstay of this soundtrack. Closed captioning is provided on the disc.

The interactive menus offer the standard scene selection feature. A link to EVEREST: THE DEATH ZONE web site is also provided, but that feature would be accessible through a DVD-ROM drive.




DVD reviews are Copyright 1999 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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