Miramax Films has thankfully decided to release "A Personal Journey" on DVD, for those of us, like myself, who have missed it in previous showings. The nearly four-hour presentation is spread across one dual-sided disc and one single-layer, single-sided disc. While this is awkward, I also found it odd that the single sided disc with the title on the other side is part three; part one is located on one of the sides of the dual-sided disc.
Issues with presentation aside, this is a fascinating documentary lead by a tour guide who has had a marvelous career on its own. The director leads us through his life, a personal journey, through the movies that were special to him during his early years. Early on, the director mentions that this is "like a museum", and that's an absolutely perfect term for what follows.
The documentary follows the format of offering the director with a black background talking for a few minutes, then going into clips from the films that he wants to discuss; he narrates and discusses his feelings about each picture. Scorsese does not tell us his feelings about these films, he shares them with us. We get the sense from the most unknown film to the most widely known that are featured here that each of them large and small has had an effect on his life.
He goes through many different eras (although this does not go into current pictures) and many different genres, from "The Roaring Twenties" to "Duel In The Sun" and onwards towards "Point Blank", "The 10 Commandments" and more. There are so many films featured in the nearly four hour running time that we feel like we've had practically an entire history given to us. Many will likely find titles they might find interesting brought up along the way, and I wouldn't be suprised if viewers found new favorites from the huge list of titles that are presented here. I know that some of the films that were talked about here are titles that I will consider reviewing in the near future.
The documentary is broken up into three sides across two discs, and many will likely choose to break the viewing up into the three parts of the documentary. Still, I think that many like myself will get caught up in this journey, and spend an afternoon with a tour guide through film history who is also one of today's great directors.
VIDEO: The image quality for "A Personal Journey" obviously varies due to the different ages of all of the film clips. Although the majority of them look quite good, there are still those that are so old that they do show wear and tear in the form of small marks and scratches. The more recent films shown are crisp and clear, many shown in their original aspect ratio. The scenes with Scorsese speaking to the camera are sharp and clear, with no problems.
SOUND: The audio generally sounds fine, and the focus in mainly the director's discussion of the film featured at that moment. When clips are shown, they all sound crisp and clear, with no problems.
MENUS:: Basic, non-animated menus with slight images as decoration serve as the introduction. With the subject though, animation or flash aren't really needed.
Final Thoughts: Although other studios may have taken the opportunity with two discs to add more material; articles, trailers, additional clips, interviews, etc, I still have to be pleased that Miramax has decided to release this documentary on DVD. "A Personal Journey" is a treat, and I enjoyed being lead through history by Scorsese, and shown all of these classic films that I have not yet seen. This is absolutely recommended, and actually, will make a perfect gift for film fans during the upcoming holiday season.