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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » The Song Remains the Same
The Song Remains the Same
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Review by Chris Hughes | posted January 14, 2000 | E-mail the Author
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Features: Widescreen Anamorphic – (1.85:1), English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround), Theatrical Trailer, Subtitles: English, French.

The Movie:
The simple fact is that had The Song Remains the Same never been made there would have been no This is Spinal Tap. Led Zeppelin's over-the-top concert film became a cliché almost the instant it hit the big screen and age has only tarnished what little innovative thrust it may once have had. The movie itself is composed of three intertwined thematic strands. First is a set of overblown semi-psychedelic 'fantasy' set pieces built around each of the four band members. When I saw this film in a theater back in 1980 I thought the fantasy segments were too long and revisiting them on DVD only confirms my initial impression. Next is a batch of backstage 'documentary' footage showing various conflicts between the band's crew and the staff at Madison Square Garden. These segments are a little more interesting but tainted by an inevitable comparison to the scenes they inspired in This is Spinal Tap. Finally there's the concert footage and if you're a Led Zeppelin fan the performance alone should be worth the price of admission. Zeppelin was well known for inconsistent stage shows but they pulled it off when it counted. The Song Remains the Same shows them at the top of their form and the height of their popularity.

The Picture:
The producers of The Song Remains the Same seem to have spent most of their limited budget on set dressings and costumes for the elaborate fantasy sequences leaving technical considerations on the back burner. The film has always looked exceedingly dark and grainy. The transfer on the DVD is probably about as good as could be expected given the quality of the original film.

The Sound:
Like the picture, the sound quality on The Song Remains the Same has always been problematic. Even in 1976 when the film was made recording technology was capable of capturing cleaner and more dynamic sound. The soundtrack always suffered from tinny midrange, screeching highs and barely adequate bass. Some of these flaws probably could have been remedied had Warner gone back to the source materials for the new Dolby 2.0 'surround' track that's included but they chose instead to simply splash the stereo tracks across all four speakers. I found the film's sound much more enjoyable after switching my receiver's mode over to stereo.

The Extras:
The only extra included on the disc is the theatrical trailer.

Conclusion:
On this release The Song Remains the Same looks and sounds about as good as it ever will and that leaves me feeling indifferent. Warner could have charged the disc up with a documentary and an audio commentary track but they probably wouldn't have increased sales by doing so. Hardcore Led Zeppelin fans will buy and enjoy The Song Remains the Same but curious parties should stick to renting.
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