Space Race (2005)
|Category||Drama||Menu Animation & Audio|
|Year Of Production||2005|
|RSDL / Flipper||Dual Layered||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||2,4||Directed By||
Roadshow Home Entertainment
Oliver de la Fosse
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.78:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.78:1||Miscellaneous|
|Subtitles||English for the Hearing Impaired||Smoking||Yes|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
Space Race is a BBC docudrama series made by the same team that gave us the fabulous Seven Wonders Of The Industrial World a couple of years ago. It chronicles the major events and people involved in the race to space during the couple of decades immediately after WWII. From the end of that conflict to the moment when America finally landed a man on the moon in July 1969, the story focuses primarily on Sergei Korolev, the Soviets' chief rocket designer and Wernher von Braun, his American counterpart and a former Nazi scientist. Not limited to just the usual British or US take on events, interestingly this series was the very first co-production between the British BBC, NDR in Germany, Russia's Channel One TV, and National Geographic Channel in the USA and it truly has a real international feel to it as a result.
The makers claim that for the first time ever the major old adversaries (Russia and the USA) were brought together to work on a series that was designed to tell the untold story of what really happened during the space race. This is the story of the often ruthless, yet brilliant scientists on both sides who strove to succeed, forced on by the completely opposing ideologies of the capitalist Americans and the communist Russians.
In an effort to shed a unique light in their particular country's contribution to the space race, each episodes' producer apparently went back to many of the original sources in Russia to shed light on some of the leading characters behind the Soviet space programme who were barely known to the West. Many of these people lived in fear during the 40s, 50s and 60s that they would be assassinated by Western agents. As a result many of the top Soviet rocket experts' names weren't even released in their own country and they were constantly shadowed by the infamous KGB.
Space Race is the latest in a host of television series that brings complex science stories to a mass audience by telling the stories in a dramatic, popular and accessible way. John Lynch, the Creative Director of BBC Science, has stated that we can actually say for the first time, "This is rocket science", but rather than be bamboozled by complex science, it is a terrific story that will have you on the edge of your seats, and amazed at what it took to achieve the greatest journey of exploration in human history.
There are four episodes in this excellent series:
From 1944 to 1949 we learn of German Wernher von Braun's work on the V-2 for the Nazis during the last years of WWII, his subsequent surrender to the Americans and his move to the USA where he fathered the space program. On the other side of the fence we learn of Russian Sergei Korolev's release from the Gulag and how he is set to work on Soviet rockets, first attempting to copy the V-2, then building a more efficient rocket of his own.
This episode covers the period from 1953 to 1958 as the Cold War intensifies. Sergei Korolev is asked to build a rocket capable of carrying a warhead to the American continent. He comes up with the R-7 Semyorka, which is later used to launch the first ever satellite, Sputnik 1. Meanwhile in America, Wernher von Braun is trying to persuade the US government to allow him to launch his own satellite, which will eventually culminate with Explorer 1.
In the period from 1959 to 1963, both the Americans and Soviets are planning for the massive challenge of manned space flight. This episode sees both countries preparing to send man into space with the development of the Vostok programme in the USSR and Project Mercury in America. We see problems and failures on both sides until finally the Soviets succeed in putting the famous Yuri Gagarin into space first. Not long afterwards the Americans succeed in getting Alan Shepard into orbit.
It's the period from 1964 to 1969 and the goal of reaching the moon is within reach. But the Soviets are struggling and the Americans pull ahead in the race with Project Gemini and then finally the famous Project Apollo.
All four episodes of this acclaimed series feature a lovely looking video transfer.
All episodes are presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and are 16x9 enhanced. Overall this is an excellent transfer, being sharp, clear, and vibrant in colour. There are no traces of edge enhancement, and grain is absent. There is no low level noise.
Colour levels are probably a little more muted overall than expected but are still superbly rendered. They are vivid and vibrant when needed with deep solid saturation.
There are no compression or any other form of artefact.
The English subtitles are excellent.
The disc is dual layered with the layer change hidden between episodes.
Though it is limited to just a single Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo effort, quite a reasonable soundtrack graces this disc. It performs the task required of it admirably and is delivered in a clean and solid way. There is some decent low end activity for the many rocket launches and explosions while dialogue is exceptionally clear and well-balanced.
Dialogue is by way of narration and of course from the actors. There are no audio sync problems.
The score used for each episode is quite rousing and evokes the mood of the era well.
There is no surround activity and no subwoofer use.
|Surround Channel Use|
Sadly there are no extras.
The Region 1 and UK Region 2 discs are identical to the Region 4 offering.
Space Race is a fascinating docu-drama focusing on what was easily the most amazing achievement by man in the period after WWII. The telling of the story from both sides with equal weight given to the Russians as well as the Americans provides for a different take on a well known tale.
The video and audio quality are excellent, but sadly there are no extras.
|DVD||Denon DVD-3910, using RGB output|
|Display||Loewe Calida (84cm). Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL).|
|Speakers||Front - B&W 602S2, Centre - B&W CC6S2, Rear - B&W 601S2, Sub - Energy E:xl S10|