Grateful Dead:

Anthem To Beauty

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Details At A Glance

Category Music Theatrical Trailer(s) None
Rating Other Trailer(s) None
Year Released 1997 Commentary Tracks None
Running Time 75:56 minutes Other Extras None
RSDL/Flipper No
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region 1,2,3,4,5,6 Director Jeremy Marre

Warner Vision Australia
Starring Jerry Garcia
Phil Lesh
Bob Weir
Ron "Pigpen" McKerman
Mickey Hart
Bill Kreutzmann
RRP $39.95 Music Grateful Dead

Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame MPEG 2.0
Widescreen Aspect Ratio N/A Dolby Digital None
16x9 Enhancement N/A Soundtrack Languages German (MPEG 2.0, 224 Kb/s)
English (MPEG 2.0, 224 Kb/s)
French (MPEG 2.0, 224 Kb/s)
Italian (MPEG 2.0, 224 Kb/s)
Spanish (MPEG 2.0, 224 Kb/s)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio N/A
Macrovision ? Smoking Yes
Subtitles None Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

Plot Synopsis

    I will admit to not having much to do with Grateful Dead, and indeed all of their songs are quite unknown by me, even in passing. However, this movie is so well made that it transcends the band in question; it is as much a look at the culture of the sixties and early seventies as it is the band themselves. It is actually a documentary rather than a music video. We have interviews with the members throughout the movie, as well as influential people of the time who came into contact with the Grateful Dead such as David Crosby and engineer Dan Healy.

    The music begins as being very experimental, typical of the psychedelic era, and very much out-there. Later, as the band matures, they become slightly more main-stream and country/rock-ish. I quite enjoy sixties music, being a fan of Pink Floyd and The Moody Blues, and so I enjoyed the music on this movie, however unpolished and raw it may be.

    It is also great to see behind the scenes, especially during such a pivotal time in the world of sound recording. Being a sound engineer by qualification myself, I was fascinated to watch the engineers play with the original multi-track tapes from the recording sessions, and reminisce of what they were doing and thinking at the time. This is how band documentaries should be done. There are no egos here, just a group of old rockers remembering the good old days. Good stuff indeed.

Transfer Quality


    The transfer is extremely variable in quality. We have here modern footage combined with archives from the sixties and seventies. Allowances have to be made for this. However, the presentation is at least as good as can be expected, and frequently better.

    The presentation is full frame, with an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 and it is not 16x9 enhanced.

    At its worst, detail and sharpness is exceptionally poor. By contrast, the recent footage is text-book perfection. Shadow detail is generally acceptable throughout. Low level noise is nearly constant throughout the archival material.

    Colours are all over the show in the archival material - sometimes muted, sometimes over-saturated, but bang on perfect in the recent interviews.

    There were no MPEG artefacts of any kind during this movie. Any film-to-video artefacts were masked by the poor quality of the film to begin with, and so went unnoticed. Film artefacts were routine, but perfectly acceptable given their nature.


    Given the age of the material, this is a fine sounding disc.

    There are five audio tracks on this disc, all of which are MPEG 2.0 surround encoded. We have, in order, German, English, French, Italian and Spanish. This disc has no default; you are forced to choose a track before play commences. I listened to the English soundtrack.

    Dialogue during the interviews was always easy to understand.

    There was only one small instance where audio-sync was problematic. It was, apart from that, spot on.

    The music has very much a late sixties sound to it. Don't expect hi-fi with this baby, even if the disc does claim it! The sound is generally lacking in bass and clarity, but never harsh. I feel it is a very good likeness to the original sound, and matches my old Pink Floyd CDs of that era nicely. If you are a fan of the sixties raw sound and can appreciate it for what it was, you will not be at all disappointed.

    I listened to this disc in straight stereo mode for maximum quality. I did note, however, that their is much surround information in the mix should you wish to listen in Pro-Logic mode. This is purely up to taste.

    The subwoofer was not called upon for assistance.


    This disc is in essence one big extra anyway, however much more could have been done with the presentation of this disc.


    Hmmm. When the disc starts, you are given an unflattering choice of languages via national flags, and then that's it - you're off and running. There are no chapter search facilities at all. In all honesty, I am not sure how they would be placed given the nature of the disc, but it is strange not to have them anyway.

R4 vs R1

    Both versions appear to be identical. The R4 version would therefore be the preferred choice given the superiority of the PAL system, though in this case only minimally.


    A superbly well produced musical documentary which is enjoyable not only for the band in question, but for the era itself. I thoroughly enjoyed it. If you are a fan of Grateful Dead you should not hesitate to get this disc. Now if only they would do the same with Pink Floyd ....

    The video quality is extremely variable, but as it is mostly archival this does not present a problem.

    The audio is of the same variable quality as the video, and is perfectly acceptable.

    No extras, not even chapters.

Ratings (out of 5)

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© Paul Cordingley
1st December 1999
Review Equipment
DVD Panasonic A350A; S-Video output
Display Pioneer SD-T43W1 125cm Widescreen 16x9
Audio Decoder Internal Dolby Digital 5.1 (DVD Player)
Amplification Sony STRDE-525 5x100 watt Dolby Pro-Logic / 5.1 Ready Receiver, 4 x Optimus 10-band Graphic EQ
Speakers Centre: Sony SS-CN35 100 watt, Main/Surrounds: Pioneer CS-R390-K 150-watt floorstanders, Subwoofer: Optimus 100-watt passive