Musicians Jamie Catto and Duncan Bridgeman have crafted what I believe to be the
best DVD of the year (2002) with their experimental release 1 Giant Leap from
Palm Pictures. The pair have blended multiple audio and visual elements and combined
them with DVD technology and created an experience unlike anything else on DVD.
In a fax sent to many hopeful collaborators, the pair explained the project.
They hoped to create an experience that fused spoken word, musicians, sounds,
rhythms and images from all parts of the world. Artists, storytellers, scientists,
authors and philosophers from different cultures all participate and are used
to illustrate the idea of a world culture and a humanity that resides within
us all, a unity in diversity is how it's labeled by the filmmakers. All the
more relevant because of the events happening in the world presently, Catto
and Bridgeman have attempted to reveal the common bond that unties everyone
and every culture the world over.
The DVD (there is also a CD) is broken into 9 distinct sections that cover
various aspects of culture and the world today. The chapters are: Time, Masks,
Money, Confrontation, God, Inspiration, Sex, Death and Happy. Each chapter begins
with a quote from famous person such as Bill Gates, Einstein, or T.S. Elliott
and then is followed by an arrangement of interviews, music, sound bytes and
visual art all blended seamlessly together.
Perhaps part of the reason the project is so engrossing is because of the collaborative
way in which it was made. Rather than request that the many artists on the project
visit them in the studio, Catto and Bridgeman-with Apple Powerbook and equipment
in hand, took the recording studio to the artist. From the front stoop of a
house in Varanasi, India surrounded by monkeys, to the backyard of R.E.M. front-man
Michael Stipe's Athens, Georgia home, the pair were able to capture an intimacy
and comfort that is unequaled in the sterile environment of a studio.
What makes this DVD so perfect is its seamless blend of so many things. Music
lovers will appreciate the large variety of music featured in this disc. Anyone
interested in history, psychology, or politics will find at least a few moments
that interest them on this disc. Likewise, anyone with an eye for design or
art will find this a successful work of art on its own. The menus, video and
included booklet (which is massive) are all exquisitely designed with a style
both functional and visually interesting. This is not a DVD to be watched and
put away. You watch it and think and find yourself wanting to watch it again.
Video: The video here is a mix between full screen and widescreen, depending
on the subject. The quality varies as well, but truly never becomes an issue.
All the footage looks great and any grain, imperfections and distractions are
either barely noticeable or placed there for effect. A lot of the footage has
a color and vibrancy that masks its digital video origins.
Sound: Mixed mostly on a 32-track mobile studio power by an Apple laptop
computer, the sound is as you'd expect on a musically themed DVD. The digital
soundtrack is crisp, clean and aurally interesting. The musical tracks fill
the room and the vocals in the interviews and musical segments are always audible.
Extras: Another great feature of this DVD is the integration of the
extras. There are several, but the design of the DVD menu and navigation makes
the feel like an equal part to the film. You can view the segments on the DVD
in three different ways. Chapter is just as it sounds, loop mode continuously
plays the selected track and jukebox mode lets you select your favorites and
play them in the order that you wish. There are two ways to view the Explore,
or behind the scenes footage. You can view them broken down by country visited
or you can turn on a Matrix like icon system that will take you to a related
feature. The behind-the-scenes footage is as interesting as the feature itself
and is worth a viewing. There are also two music videos included from CD singles
and the book that comes with the DVD, which is a work of art itself. At almost
40 pages, it's a visual and lyrical exploration of the contents on the DVD and
also serves as a journal to the filmmakers experience in making the disc. They
have written and short paragraph or two on each country visited and what they
Overall: This is truly one of the most unique, interesting and provocative
DVDs you will see. Its unique combination of so many elements makes it as much
a work of art as one of entertainment. Combine that with the well-integrated
extras and informative book and this easily makes it into the DVDTalk Collector
Series in hopes of more and more people seeking it out.