Lambeau Field, home of the Green Bay Packers, is simply the greatest stadium in professional football. The history (the team was founded in football's infancy), the teams (12 NFL titles), the legendary games (The Ice Bowl—'nuff said), and the fans (seats have been sold out for over 40 years), all help make Lambeau the most important field in sports. While other teams are demolishing their old stadiums to make way for more modern arenas, the Packers and their fans decided to keep their stadium's heart in tact and renovate around the field, thus preserving their heritage. Perhaps that's why it's the only stadium with a DVD dedicated to its legendary status.
The Legend of Lambeau Field chronicles the life of the stadium by presenting old film footage, vintage photographs, game highlights, and recent interviews with 40 Packers players, NFL Hall of Famers, and coaches. It starts with the team's creation and ends on the recent renovations that were completed last summer. And there's a surprising amount of emotion here. The clips are woven together in such a way that it's impossible not to feel the passion generated by the legendary field.
Easily the coolest part of this documentary is the black-and-white film footage and photographs of old Packers games and players. Sure, you get shots of Bart Starr, Paul Hornung, and Ray Nitschke, but you also get amazing looks at the entire Indian Packing Company team, the Grey Ghost (Tony Canadeo), and more surprisingly, Curly Lambeau, both as a young player and as a much older coach. I actually paused on several of the old photos and rewatched all of the old clips. I had never seen anything like it, and as a Packer fan, they were like a hidden treasure uncovered for the first time.
Naturally, the documentary focuses on the history of Lambeau Field. It offers many interesting facts on the stadium's $1 million construction and local support (the 1956 referendum for the new stadium passed by a 2-1 margin), and showcases the many historic games played on the frozen tundra. The Ice Bowl footage is some of the best, but it is also fun to relive other moments, too, such as the first Lambeau Leap, the numerous snow games, and the memorable game winning plays. My only real complaint here is that there isn't enough footage. I would have liked to see more set up on the individual games, which would have made the plays more dramatic. Yet there is so much good footage here, it's difficult to knock.
Most of the emotion of this documentary comes from the player interviews. They all talk about the importance of Lambeau Field and what it was like to play there. You can see it in their eyes and hear it in their voices that there's something more here than just a stadium. For these guys, it was an honor to play in Green Bay and these interviews offer an insight into what it felt like to be on the field and at the center of a town's attention.
I think The Legend of Lambeau Field is a perfect DVD for its target audience. Packer fans of all ages will definitely get a kick out of this. Football fans in general will also enjoy the show, but it's doubtful the film will convert those not interested in the sport. It has been said that a football fan hasn't lived until he has seen a game at Lambeau Field. This DVD doesn't take the place of such an experience, but it certainly fills the void until that day comes.
Frozen Tundra Films presents The Legend of Lambeau Field in 1.85 anamorphic widescreen. The interview segments and modern footage look very sharp, with bright colors and deep blacks. But it's the old footage that steals the show. Sure, it has scratches and shows much wear, but that's exactly the way it needs to look. There was no restoration here and this documentary is better for it.
The Legend of Lambeau Field is presented in 2.0 surround sound. This documentary is mostly interviews and voice over, and the sound presentation is more than acceptable. Voices are crystal clear and the narrators tone is just deep enough to give it that NFL Films touch. The music sounds nice and deep, too, and truly adds to the feeling of the film. There's nothing here that will give your speakers a workout, but what you get more than does the job.
The menus are static and feature the cover art. This would be fine if it weren't for the music, which seems out of place for a legendary stadium and the home of modern day gladiators. It's a little too sweet and moody, and quite simply made me skeptical about what I was going to find on the disc.
THE BONUS FEATURES
Although the package states this DVD features over 40 minutes of bonus material, it could've easily stated it has over 40 minutes of extra interview footage. Running between 5 and 15 minutes, the extras section showcases some of the interview snippets not seen in the film. You get talking head footage of Packer greats Paul Hornung, Max McGee, Willie Davis, Sterling Sharpe, Lynn Dickey, and Brett Favre. This extra footage is great, but I wish it offered more. Some of the interviews are obviously cut short, and I see no reason why the entire interview isn't offered. What is here is great, but I would've liked more.
You also get a 10 minute message from the Green Bay Packers and the Miller Brewing Company. This has the feel of an infommercial, or perhaps a political campaign. Packers president and CEO, Bob Harlan, explains the Lambeau Field renovation, and Rob Olejniczak of the Miller Brewing Company explains the beer's involvement with the project. The piece feels like fluff, and in a way, diminishes the power of the main feature.
I know it sounds cliché, but no Packer fan should be without this DVD. And although I can't recommend this highly enough to those fans, I must say this is also great viewing for football fans in general. The clips of old school Packer teams is worth the price of a rental, and the rest of the goodies is just icing on the cake.