DVD Review HTF DVD Review: The People Speak (Extended Edition)

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  1. Ed Faver

    Ed Faver Second Unit

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    The People Speak (Extended Edition)


    Release date:
    February 9, 2010
    Studio: A & E Television Networks
    Not Rated
    Aspect: 1:85:1
    Language: English, Dolby Digital 5.1, CC
    Running Time: 113 minutes
    MSRP: $19.95

    THE FEATURE

    In Good Will Hunting, the title charater refers to the work of Howard Zinn as a 'mind-blowing' view of American history. It turns out that Matt Damon is a big fan of Zinn's work in life as well. He spent the better part of 10 years trying to bring Zinn's work to the screen in some fashion. The People Speak is a 'concert' inspired by Zinn's book, A People's History of the United States. Taped in Boston, The People Speak is a combination of Zinn's narration, dramatic readings from history by well-known actors, and performances of period American music by popular singers.

    Howard Zinn is not a traditional American historian. He is different things to different people. Teacher, activist, rebel, patriot. All of this labels can be applied to Zinn. His view of American history is from the bottom up. His books trace America's growth from the perspective of the common people and how powerful institutions affect them and the country. The People Speak presents this view through readings by actors like Danny Glover, Viggo Mortensen, David Straithairn, and Jasmine Guy. The readings present a 'You Are There' window on the historical periods and events Zinn talks about from the stage. Much of his presentation focuses on Americans confronting and overcoming governmental and corporate oppression. His view extends from the War for Independence up to modern day. Sometimes, he uses songs of the period to emphasize his point. We hear slave spirituals and the songs of Woody Guthrie, Neil Young, and Bob Dylan as sung by Bruce Springsteen, Eddie Vedder, Chris Robinson, and Dylan himself. Taken together, the readings, music, and words of Zinn make for a thought-provoking, alternate view of America that needs to be seen and heard.

    RATING: 5/5


    VIDEO

    The People Speak was originally recorded for presentation on the History Channel. It is a taped, live event and the quality is good, but unremarkable. This is a DVD where the content is sole focus. The presentation does nothing to detract from the message.

    RATING: 4/5

    AUDIO

    Presented in 5.1 Dolby Digital, the musical segments of the show sound great. There are no effects to speak of or musical score. The songs sound great and the speakers can be heard clearly. There really is not much more to be said in this case.

    RATING : 4/5

    EXTRAS

    There are two additional segments. 'Behind the Scenes at the Cutler Majestic Theater' is a 10 minute featurette that shows us a bit of rehearsal and the moments leading up to the start of the show. 'Celebrity Interviews' is 5 minutes of sound bytes from the actors during rehearsal. Pretty benign stuff.

    RATING: 2/5

    IN SUMMARY

    The People Speak is a wonderful introduction ot the works of Howard Zinn. Those who consider themselves to be 'red staters' or feel best represented by the views of the Fox News Channel will likely challenge Mr. Zinn's opinions. However, he should be heard and this DVD is a fine place to start. Sadly, the release of The People Speak comes two weeks after Zinn's death. His death means the loss of a powerful voice for American democracy. In his books and this DVD, his ideas live on.

    OVERALL RATING (not an average): 4.5/5
     

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