There is probably no subject more relevant and appropriate for an in-depth documentary for the world in which we live than Islam. This religion, which literally burst forth from the Middle East in the 7th century and went on to conquer most of the civilized world has of course taken on a more sinister character since some of its more zealous practicioners have decided terror is the only way to further their goals.
While this subject is an apt one, unfortunately this 1983 documentary is hampered both by its relative datedness and by the transfer on this particular DVD. While the information it does impart is all perfectly acceptable, and even instructive, it nonetheless bears little relationship to how a lot of the world views Islam in this post-9/11 world, for better or worse. While this documentary opens with a telling narration of how the west has repeatedly slighted the religion, and then goes into an admirably in-depth portrait of both its genesis and its adherents, as well as the remarkable influence Islam has had on both the arts (architecture) and sciences (medicine), it's going to seem bizarrely out of touch with modern sensibilities, perhaps surprising in that the film is only about 25 years old.
While the documentary has some nice footage of various locales from Yemen to Saudi Arabia to New York (where it talks about the advent of Black Muslims in America), the visual presentation is hampered by a really poor source element full of all sorts of damage and graininess. While the voiceover is also subject to damage from time to time, its most severe drawback is the stilted writing style, redolent of those boring school films we all had to sit through, which masks the information in a cloak of apathy for the listener.
The Story of Islam (really, per the film itself, Islam: Faith and Nations) may have been an excellent introduction to its subject a quarter-century ago. As it stands, it's hopelessly out of date and of little interest to modern audiences.
As noted above, the source elements are in pretty lamentable condition, with manifold scratches, abrasion and marring, not to mention an omnipresent graininess.
The soundtrack seems to actually be mono (no information is given) and is in similarly rough shape, with varying quality levels throughout. At times the narration is clear, with good range of frequency, at other times it's badly muffled, with highs and lows inexplicably cut off.
None are offered.
This is a subject ripe for revisiting. Unfortunately with so much relevant information about Islam having occurred since this documentary's release, it makes this particular effort a vestige of the past.
"G-d made stars galore" & "Hey, what kind of a crappy fortune is this?" ZMK, modern prophet