Jimi Hendrix

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Details At A Glance

Category Music/Documentary Theatrical Trailer
Rating m.gif (1166 bytes)
Year Released 1973
Running Time 97:53 Minutes
RSDL/Flipper No/No
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region 2,4 Director Gary Weis
WarnerBros.gif (2960 bytes)
Warner Home Video
Starring Jimi Hendrix
Noel Redding
Mitch Mitchell
Billy Cox
Al Hendrix
Case Transparent Amaray
RPI $36.95 Music Jimi Hendrix
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English (Dolby Digital 1.0, 192 Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement
16x9Yes.jpg (4536 bytes)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.37:1
Macrovision Yes Smoking Yes, Jimi's guitar (literally)
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
German for the Hearing Impaired
Italian for the Hearing Impaired
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

Plot Synopsis

    This is going to be my shortest plot summary ever. Not because the programme is painful or difficult to describe, but because of its stark simplicity.

    Jimi Hendrix is still considered by many to be one of the most influential guitarists of all time, with his wild, frantic style of playing leaving an indelible mark upon many present members of the guitarist fraternity. This documentary, of the same name, features concert footage of the man playing a few numbers, and interviews with a number of people who knew him personally. If you're looking for a music video, you're better off buying the Live At Woodstock DVD, but this is worth buying for the insight it offers into the music industry in an age where it took musical talent and uniqueness to survive as an artist.

Transfer Quality


    The packaging of this DVD states that Side A is a "regular" transfer in the aspect ratio of 1.85:1, and that Side B is a widescreen transfer in the aspect ratio of 1.85:1. In fact, both sides contain the original Full Frame presentation of this film, but Side A is 16x9 Enhanced while the other is not. Bizarre. The use of 16x9 Enhancement on the so-called Widescreen side of this disc is blatantly unnecessary. This is the worst kind of use of the dual-sided format I have ever seen.

    One thing I have to say about this transfer before continuing is that I would have much preferred an RSDL disc with the 4x3 Full Frame transfer, with the promo videos for such Hendrix classics as Fire and Are You Experienced? added as bonus features. Having viewed both sides of this disc, I can say that the 4x3 side of the disc is infinitely preferable due to the higher amount of active pixels in the image. The sharpness of the transfer is good, but it is clear that the photographic equipment used to make the film wasn't always the best kind. Shadow detail is poor, with an early shot of Jimi Hendrix being so dark that any semblance of detail is lost from anything outside of the stage lights. Low-level noise was not a problem with the transfer, although film grain is something of an issue at times.

    The colour saturation of this transfer can best be described as inconsistent, with some stage lights frequently changing the colour they cast over whatever happens to be under them. The age of the film stock is variable due to the different stages at which the concert footage and interview footage was shot, but the faults are carried over from the source material rather than being any fault of the transfer. If anything, the real problem of this transfer in the colour saturation stakes is that the colours are heavily saturated while having a dull appearance about them, but this is a common problem in photography from the mid-1970s to the mid-1980s.

    MPEG artefacts didn't appear in the transfer at any stage, apart from some trivial blockiness in a blue haze cast by a concert light around the fifteen minute mark, which was only noticeable when zoomed in on. Since this is an excellent approximation of what this effect looks like under normal circumstances when viewed normally, it doesn't really count. Film-to-video artefacts were not noticed, although I may have let one or two trivial instances of aliasing go by. Unfortunately, film artefacts are a real problem in this transfer, with a ton of black and white flecks noticed in several shots. Given the age of the film and the manner in which much of it was photographed, this is forgivable.


    There is only one audio track on this DVD: an English soundtrack in Dolby Digital 1.0, which is a pity considering that Hendrix's music demands at least some stereo separation and a low-frequency channel. However, this soundtrack has nothing fancy about it simply because there was nothing fancy about it to begin with; it simply replays the commentaries of those who knew Jimi Hendrix, and exhibits some of his music, which sounds good no matter how many bits and channels you allocate to it.

    The dialogue during the interview footage is clear and easy to make out at all times, although a few words here and there would be easy to mishear. The vocals in the concert footage, however, are sung quite rapidly and poorly separated from the music, making them difficult to understand at times. Audio sync was not a problem, although the concert footage occasionally had that "something's not quite right" quality to it.

    The music by Jimi Hendrix is infrequently featured in the film, which is mostly comprised of interviews with anyone and everyone who had somehow become acquainted with the man. When the music is present, it is limited by the singular channel to the extent that it often sounds slightly muffled. In spite of this, the music somehow manages to take the listener on a journey beyond consciousness. In a nutshell, this is my argument against the DTS-mania that seems to have swept many a reviewer into a pro-DVD Audio frenzy. Crap will still sound like crap even if you play it in six channels with one and a half megabits allocated per second, but true maestros like Jimi Hendrix sound great even when they've been recorded inside a dishwasher with an answering machine.

    The surround channels had nothing to do with this monaural soundtrack, but I thought that the subwoofer would at least get the chance to support the bass and drum tracks. It was completely silent from start to finish, however, in spite of really being needed by the music.



    The menu is static, and it is 16x9 Enhanced on the 16x9 Enhanced side of the disc. It does what it is meant to do, and does it without being counter-intuitive.

Theatrical Trailer

R4 vs R1

    The Region 4 and Region 1 versions of this disc are practically identical, with both featuring a 16x9 Enhanced 1.37:1 transfer, as well as a 4x3 1.37:1 transfer. According to the review on Widescreen Review, the 16x9 Enhanced side of the Region 1 disc is better to look at.


    Jimi Hendrix is an interesting look at the man and his music, presented on a reasonable DVD that highlights the need for some proof-reading at Warner Home Video.

    The video quality is acceptable, bordering on good.

    The audio quality is functional.

    The extras are limited.

Ratings (out of 5)

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 © Dean McIntosh (my bio sucks... read it anyway)
October 12, 2000 
Review Equipment
DVD Toshiba SD-2109, using S-video output
Display Samsung CS-823AMF (80 cm), 16:9 mode/4:3 mode, using composite and S-video inputs
Audio Decoder Built In (Amplifier)
Amplification Sony STR-DE835
Speakers Panasonic S-J1500D Front Speakers, Philips PH931SSS Rear Speakers, Philips FB206WC Centre Speaker, JBL Digital 10 Active Subwoofer