Empires-Peter & Paul and the Christian Revolution (Roadshow) (2002)

If you create a user account, you can add your own review of this DVD

Released 10-Jun-2004

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
BUY IT

Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Documentary Main Menu Introduction
Main Menu Audio
Trailer-The Empires Series
Rating Rated E
Year Of Production 2002
Running Time 110:37
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (57:49) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Margaret Koval
Studio
Distributor
SBS
Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring None Given
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $29.95 Music Dana Kaproff


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.75:1
16x9 Enhancement
Not 16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.75:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    The next release in the great Empires documentary series, as screened/screening on SBS TV and now being released on DVD is Peter & Paul and the Christian Revolution. Previous releases in this series already reviewed by this site are Japan: Memoirs of a Secret Empire, Egypt's Golden Empire, The Greeks: Crucible of Civilisation, The Roman Empire: In the First Century and Martin Luther. Others to follow soon are Kingdom of David: The Saga of the Israelites, Islam, Napoleon, Queen Victoria's Empire and The Medici: Godfathers of the Renaissance.

    This documentary series has been of generally very high production quality so far, apart from some minor lapses from the rule in terms of DVD transfer quality (a couple of DVDs in this series (including as it happens this case at hand) are not presented 16x9 enhanced and another in the series came with notably lesser video quality than all the rest). But generally speaking, the transfer quality in this series of DVDs has been very good. Above all, the production quality and content of these independently written, produced and directed documentaries themselves has proven to be particularly high. Nearly all episodes in the Empires series have so far proven to be successful in their objective to educate and entertain (again, with only one exception it would seem in the writing approach taken with one of the very earliest in the series to be produced). As a documentary series per se, so far this one has proven to be a big winner, and at the same time very educational, enlightening and entertaining.

    So it was with again high expectation that I picked up the next in the series, Peter & Paul and the Christian Revolution, to review. This is the fascinating story of exactly how Christianity came into being. It covers the period commencing from Jesus' death by crucifixion through the next 40-odd years, and shows exactly how the faithful apostles Peter and Paul and a small band of others went about spreading the word of the new Christian religion to the masses of both Jews and non-Jews in Judea and throughout the Roman empire.

    It is worthwhile noting that Jesus was only one of thousands of men crucified by the Romans at the time for harbouring "dangerous political beliefs" that contradicted the strict Roman rule of law. Rome had conquered this entire region a century before and knew how to quash rebellion very effectively. Yet, unlike the thousands of other prophets and so-called Messiahs who died as martyrs on the cross, the teachings of Jesus were not lost in the period immediately following his death; this is solely because of the perseverance and hard work of Peter and Paul in spreading the faith among the masses and converting them to a new faith, struggling to do so, however, against political persecution from among those very masses they were trying to preach to and of course from the Roman establishment itself, and also struggling against crippling disagreements between Peter and Paul themselves, as to the methods and approach to spread the word. But despite these major setbacks, the new faith did not die and within the very brief span of only a single lifetime this new religion would spread to Rome and absorb the capital of the mighty empire itself.

    The two episodes on this DVD are:   

    Lack of chapter markers; a small complaint: as with all other DVDs in this Empires series, there is a complaint in respect of the placement of chapter markers on this disc; i.e. they leave a lot to be desired. There is a lack of adequate chapter markers in the appropriate places to separate the content in these episodes, despite clearly headed section breaks during the programme for such purpose, and so there is no quick access available to relevant key sections within each episode. The placement of what chapter markers have been included appears completely spurious and of no use at all.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

    The quality of the video transfer on this disc would have been on par with the vast majority of previous releases in this series - i.e. very good - had it not been for a slip-up in production that sees this release hindered slightly by a lack of 16x9 enhancement.

    The presented aspect ratio is the original 1.75:1, as screened on TV, but this time the transfer is NOT 16x9 enhanced. Consequently, sharpness, grain and the like is marginally worse off this time around, as we have to zoom in to the image.

    Sharpness is generally good, and would have been high with 16x9 enhancement, as would be expected of a very recently-produced, decent budget series. Most scenes offer satisfactory to quite pleasing levels of detail in foreground and background images, with little grain (although more noticeable this time without the 16x9 enhancement), sufficient shadow detail and minimal low level noise. As has been the case in others in this series, there is noticeably more grain in scenes shot in lower light levels and this is clearly a function of the type of film stock used throughout to film this series, resulting in softer resolution and, occasionally, low level noise in these low-light scenes. As it turns out though, a good majority of the action in these two episodes takes place in daylight or in sufficiently lit interiors, and so the vast majority of this DVD transfer boasts very good image quality.

    Colour is consistent and well rendered, although as a general comment I found the colour palette used in this particular documentary to be marginally more washed-out than for the others in the series (it is unclear if this was a deliberate artistic effect for this episode or not). Skin tones are fine and black levels are relatively solid, dropping off a bit in the occasional low-light scene.

    Pleasingly, there are virtually no artefacts to note at all - this is a modern, very clean and very well-handled transfer. MPEG artefacts are restricted to some minor pixelization noted in some scenes (a problem hindered by the lack of 16x9 enhancement). Film-to-video artefacts are restricted to only the most minor instances of near-aliasing, and there are no film artefacts at all, other than the visible grain in the low-light scenes.

    The English for the Hearing Impaired subtitle language stream is very clear, well timed and accurate. However, it is not well placed and, due to the lack of 16x9 enhancement, the bottom half of the bottom line of subtitles is lost off the bottom of the screen when zooming into the image. This means if you want to read the subtitles you will have to watch the transfer in 1.33:1 mode.

    This disc is RSDL-formatted, with the layer change occurring at 2:30 in Episode II - a crazy and infuriating place to put it when it could have more easily and logically been placed in between the two episodes.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The quality of the audio transfer is also high, being a perfectly sufficient English Dolby Digital 2.0 track (recorded at 224 Kb/s).

    Dialogue quality cannot be faulted; the narrator enunciates clearly. I had no issues with the audio sync.

    The music score is appropriate, lends well to the context and is not overused. The DVD's audio transfer handles the score clearly across the range.

    This is not a surround-sound audio track.

    Subwoofer use is minimal.
   

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    The only extra is an advertisement for the Empires series, presented using 5 text screens, in which 2 titles are featured on each screen (there are 10 titles in total in this Empires series), in turn each with a further selectable single text screen giving a very brief synopsis.

    After a short Empires series main menu introduction sequence, being animated, with audio and provided in 1.78:1 but not 16x9 enhanced, the main menu for this DVD itself is static, with audio and provided in 1.33:1. It is sufficient.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Empires series does not appear to have been released in Region 2 yet, but most episodes, including Peter & Paul, have been released in Region 1. The Region 1 release of this documentary is identical to the Region 4 release. Opt for the local release for the PAL transfer.

Summary

    Yet another enlightening documentary in the Empires series makes it way to DVD. This plugs the knowledge gap of exactly how it was that the Christian revolution spread after Jesus' death. Another very well produced and highly recommended documentary.

    Video quality is good, although hindered this time by a lack of 16x9 enhancement.

    Audio quality is very good.

    As with the others in the Empires series, there are no real extras.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Sean Abberton (read my bio)
Sunday, July 04, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDToshiba 2109, using Component output
DisplayToshiba 117cm widescreen rear projection TV. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderYamaha RXV-1000. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL).
AmplificationElektra Theatre 150 Watts x 6 channel Power Amplifier
SpeakersOrpheus Aurora III mains, Orpheus Centaurus 1.0 centre, Velodyne CT150 sub and B&W DM303 rears

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add) NONE