The People's Passion

A Musical For Easter

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Details At A Glance

Category Music Theatrical Trailer(s) None
Rating Other Trailer(s) None
Year Released 1999 Commentary Tracks None
Running Time 49:01 minutes Other Extras Cast & Crew Listing
DVD-ROM: Libretto
RSDL/Flipper No/No
Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Selection then Menu
Region 2,3,4,5,6 Director Tony Cash

Warner Vision
Starring Jessye Norman
Thomas Allen
Patricia Hodge
Ron Moody
Kevin Whately
Jonathan Cope
Case Super Jewel
RRP $39.95 Music Donald Fraser

Pan & Scan/Full Frame None MPEG None
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 Dolby Digital None
16x9 Enhancement
Soundtrack Languages English (Linear PCM 48/16 2.0, 1536Kb/s)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio ?
Macrovision Yes Smoking No
Subtitles English
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes

Plot Synopsis

    The People's Passion is another DVD title where repeated requests for a volunteer to review it amongst the other site reviewers fell on deaf ears. Unlike Pokémon: The First Movie, which I was also compelled to review under similar circumstances, and subsequently liked a lot more than I expected to, The People's Passion did very little for me indeed.

    The People's Passion, as the name suggests, is a contemporary musical version of the story of the last week in the life of Jesus Christ. This DVD presents a staged-for-video production of this work. Jessye Norman stars as the Narrator. According to the liner notes, Jessye Norman should be a name well-known to me as she has won a copious number of awards for her singing, however, I must confess to being completely ignorant of her work prior to this point in time. This is probably a significant factor in my relatively negative reaction to this production, as two really appalling clichés are presented within the first two minutes and I never really got over them.

    The first cliché is that of Jessye Norman herself, bursting forth in song. How to put this delicately? Jessye Norman is a robust woman, and this does make for quite a disconcerting visual image when she is first presented in her entirety on-screen.

    The second cliché is that of Jonathan Cope, who "dances the Spirit of Jesus" in a see-through white silk shirt - unbuttoned of course.

    I'm sorry, but the combination of these two images made it very hard for me to take this production at all seriously. Add to that the somewhat lacklustre music, and I was less-than-enthralled for the 49:01 that this production ran for.

Transfer Quality


    The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1. It is not 16x9 enhanced.

    The transfer is not the greatest that I have ever seen, and can best be described as passable only. Overall, the transfer is generally too dark, despite being staged especially for video, and not especially sharp. The only shots which were of sufficient brightness were the close-up shots of some of the singers. The overall darkness of the transfer led to a loss of shadow detail, with blacker areas of the picture simply being crushed into complete darkness with no shadow detail. Fortunately, there was no low level noise to mar the image at any time.

    The colours were variably presented, but tended to be oversaturated in response to the overall darkness of the transfer. As with the brightness of the close-up shots, so too did the colour rectify itself in these shots. There was a very small amount of chroma noise exhibited in the large fields of single colour which made up the backgrounds of many shots.

    No MPEG artefacts were seen. There was some minor judder apparent early on during some slow pans across some of the characters, but this seemed to settle down as the transfer progressed. There was a single vertical skip in the video at 27:59 but otherwise there were no artefacts spotted in this image.


    There is only the one audio track on this DVD, an English Linear PCM 48/16 2.0 soundtrack. I listened to this soundtrack in stereo mode, as this seemed to suit the production the best.

    The vocals were a little hard to make out at times, particularly during the louder passages of music, where the music simply drowned out the vocalists. Audio sync was variable. This production was clearly mimed when it was being filmed, and so the relative lip sync skills of the artists involved is reflected in the quality of the lip sync, which varies from spot on to very noticeably out.

    The music, by Donald Fraser, did little for me other than isolated passages which showed some promise. Your opinion may differ.

    Being a stereo mix, the surround channels and the .1 channel were not utilized by this soundtrack at all.


    There are a very small number of extras on this disc.


Cast & Crew Listing

    There are no biographies here, merely a listing of the main cast & crew.

DVD-ROM Extras

    This comprises a link to the NVC Arts web site and the complete libretto of this work.


    This offers detailed biographies of Jessye Norman and Jonathan Cope.

R4 vs R1

    This DVD is not yet available in Region 1.


    The People's Passion was not to my taste at all.

    The video quality is marginal, but generally too dark.

    The audio quality is acceptable.

    There are virtually no extras.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Michael Demtschyna (read my bio)
17th June 2000

Review Equipment
DVD Denon DVD-1500/Loewe Xemix 5006DD, using S-Video/RGB outputs
Display Loewe Art-95 95cm direct view CRT in 4:3 mode, via the S-Video/RGB inputs. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Audio Decoder Denon AVD-2000 Dolby Digital AddOn Decoder, used as a standalone processor. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Amplification 2 x EA Playmaster 100W per channel stereo amplifiers for Left, Right, Left Rear and Right Rear; Philips 360 50W per channel stereo amplifier for Centre and Subwoofer
Speakers Philips S2000 speakers for Left, Right; Polk Audio CS-100 Centre Speaker; Apex AS-123 speakers for Left Rear and Right Rear; Hsu Research TN-1220HO Subwoofer