The History of the UEFA Champions League

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Released 22-Jun-2004

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Sports Main Menu Introduction
Menu Animation & Audio
Credits
Rating Rated E
Year Of Production ?
Running Time 110:00
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Donatella Sermattei
Studio
Distributor
Logos Video Ent
Visual Entertainment Group
Starring None Given
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $34.95 Music Machiavelli I.M.I.


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
German Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    The UEFA Champions League, which grew out of the European Champions Cup in 1993, is arguably the most popular club sports competition in the world (and is not to be confused with the recent European Championships won by Greece, which is for national teams, not club sides). Each year soccer giants such as Real Madrid, Manchester United, Juventus, Bayern Munich and A. C. Milan vie for supremacy and the right to be crowned club champions of Europe. For many of these teams their own national club championship is a secondary goal, merely an avenue to qualify for the Champions League in the following season. With a rich history it would seem almost a 'no brainer' to make a great DVD following the ups and downs of the competition since its inception in 1956. Unfortunately, the makers of this disc have somehow managed to mess things up along the way.

    I should mention that I am a mad keen soccer fan, and follower of Manchester United (who have a great European tradition), so that I was really keen to get my hands on this disc. From what I can see, there are two main problems with the program on offer here:

  1. The program itself is all over the place. It is poorly structured and jumps from one topic to another with little pattern, and from one year to another and then back again with bewildering regularity. You can check out my description of the contents below for details.
  2. The original production appears to have been Italian, and either the original was very poor or the translation has been badly done (if any of our readers have seen this disc and are fluent in Italian I would appreciate your comment on which is at fault). At times the players are given the incorrect names, and even when they get the names right they often pronounce them wrongly (that popular Arsenal player is pronounced Henri, not Henry). The scores shown on screen often disagree with what the narrator is saying, so the viewer will be left wondering which is correct. And as for the line "They could administer even a narrow lead", I have no idea what he was talking about when he said it, a frequent state of mind when watching this mess.

    The disc is divided into 5 main segments, which can each be chosen off the main menu. The program then runs to its end from the chosen chapter:

    To be honest, there are some great matches on display here, and you will see some excellent goals, but the presentation is really dire. It would have been preferable to show the competition year by year from the start, followed by a chapter or two highlighting key teams and players, and their achievements. Of course, it would have been even better to see it with the facts correct and the flowery prose watered down significantly. At the relatively high recommended price I would suggest staying well clear of this one, or perhaps snatching a copy from the bargain bin if you want to watch your favourite team hold the famous trophy aloft in triumph.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The video transfer on offer here is just as poor as the program itself. This can be excused for the older matches, which are often ancient black and white television coverage of night matches, faded and blurred. The poor quality is less defensible for later games, which looked better than this when I watched them live on TV.

    The aspect ratio is 1.33:1, and not 16x9 enhanced, which would have been the original aspect ratio as most of these matches were originally shown on TV.

    As noted above, a lot of the program is poor quality archival material (but still of interest). Unfortunately, even the more modern games suffer from a soft, fuzzy picture. Shadow detail is acceptable in all but the earlier games - there is some low level noise in those older matches.

    The earlier parts of the program are in black & white, with more recent games in colour. The older games are rather muted, with a very limited range of tones, while the colour games generally look washed out, with only the odd match showing the brighter colours that should have been more common here.

    The archival footage here is some of the worst I have seen for some time. Once again this is understandable given the age of much of the material (some of the older games seem to have faded almost entirely from the video tape). The later matches are better, with little damage on show. Oh, and while I remember, while not technically a picture flaw, some segments have an annoyingly large Champions League logo at the bottom right of the picture.

    There are no subtitles on the disc. The layer change comes part way through the second chapter, and is a little disruptive. I'm not sure why they didn't place it between program segments. I can't give you the exact time as my DVD player did not display any program times while playing this disc.

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

Audio

    By now, I'm hoping you weren't expecting too much from the audio transfer on offer here.

    There are 5 audio tracks on the disc - Italian, English, German, Spanish and French Dolby Digital 2.0 mono tracks encoded at bitrates of 192 Kb/s. I listened to the program in English and to segments in Italian. I assume that the latter track is a more authentic experience than the English - it sounded fine to my untrained ears.

    The narration is clear enough, it is just unbearable as the writer (Paolo Rossi, not the famous soccer player, surely?) has gone overboard in his desire to describe the majesty of what is happening on the screen. This is truly the worst narration I have heard in many a year. From the names in the closing credits I am guessing that Martin Drayton narrated the English version - surely he could have asked some questions about what he was being asked to say (almost anyone in England would know that it is Kenny Dalglish and not Kevin Dalglish). Audio sync is not an issue as we only have a voiceover to listen to.

    The music, credited to Machiavelli I.M.I., is not too bad on occasion, but rarely suited to the matches it accompanies. It ranges across a strange variety of styles and is recorded too loudly compared to the narration so that you frequently feel as if you are straining to listen to someone describing a big match taking place on a faraway screen at a very loud disco.

    There is no surround activity, and the subwoofer is not used.

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

Extras

    I could not find any extras on the DVD. The front cover of the box suggests that there are "statistics of the winning teams" but I was unable to find any.

Menu

    The menu is animated with audio. From it you can go to any of the 5 program segments, watch the end Credits again (they also follow the last program segment) or go to the language screen.

R4 vs R1

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

    I was unable to locate a Region 1 version of the DVD, which is no surprise given the historical lack of general interest in professional soccer in that country. The Region 2 version is identical to the Region 4, so that I would go for the cheapest one you could find if you really have to buy this disc.

Summary

    I found the archival footage on this disc of great interest, and had no problem with the quality of the transfer of the older material. The poor quality video transfer on the later footage and the factually incorrect (and just plain awful) narration are not forgivable. I would stay away from this one unless you are a rabid soccer fan and find it on special (say, around $10).

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Tony Robert Davison (read my bio)
Tuesday, August 17, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDToshiba SD-K350, using Component output
DisplaySONY VPL-HS10 LCD projector, ABI 280cm 16x9 screen. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderKenwood. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationKenwood
SpeakersKenwood

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