Maya Lin - A Strong Clear Vision
Docurama // Unrated // $24.99 // May 27, 2003
Review by Don Houston | posted June 1, 2003
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Movie: With the winding down of the war with Iraq, a lot of patriotic feelings are in the air. A number of this country's young have given their lives to help secure the freedoms we all enjoy each day. Eventually, a memorial will be designed to honor the memory of those fallen heroes which brings up the subject of this review. Maya Lin: A Strong Clear Vision is a documentary that centers on the life of another young American, about the same age as those we ship off to war.

Miss Lin is best known as the youthful designer of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial built around twenty years ago in Washington D.C. The first half of the documentary deals with the trials and tribulations she had when her design was chosen over all the other 1400+ entrants. I remember some of the controversy that took place when her design was picked that centered on her race (Asian), gender, and that it was such a non-traditional monument. A lot of vets were resentful at many aspects of the choice and the documentary covers much of it quite well. I think I'd have preferred that the entire documentary be about this one matter rather than go on to spend time on several of her other projects (a civil rights monument in Alabama, a tribute to women at Yale, etc.) since there was a lot more to the controversy than Director Mock covered.

The movie also spent some time with Lin's hometown background but it felt sanitized to me. Almost all the comments about her come from her and not those who knew her (as is more standardly included in such documentaries). In that sense, the documentary is more of an autobiography than anything else and that limits the human aspect of the show. Lin's progressive nature, and her feminist views, are mentioned more than a few times and seemed a lot more palatable to me than the in your face style others are known for. Apparently, others thought so too since the movie won an Oscar when it was released.

Picture: The picture was presented in 1.33:1 ratio full frame as originally filmed. The footage used from television to various award ceremonies to the footage filmed by Director Mock varied quite a bit in quality but aside from the typical graininess and low resolution, it was okay. The dvd transfer was fine with no compression artifacts or moire that I noticed in two viewings.

Sound: The sound was presented in 2 channel Dolby Digital stereo but it seemed as though most of the sound came out of my center speaker. The vocals were clear though and fitting for the documentary.

Extras: There was a short, written biography for both the director and co-producer. There was also the typical trailers and dvd catalog by Docurama.

Final Thoughts: The film was most interesting for me when it showed the Vietnam memorial controversy and a few hints at Lin's personality but that only covered half the movie. The other half was, more often than not, just filler. As such, I'm rating this one a Rental, but the overall picture/sound/subject matter was pretty good and some will want to buy it.



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