Muhammad Ali: Through the Eyes of the World (1996)

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Released 1-Mar-2002

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Documentary Featurette-Through The Eyes Of The World (10)
Featurette-Unseen Interviews (5)
Music Video-Muhammad Ali-Faithless
Notes-Fight Chronology
Featurette-Ali Center Promo
Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1996
Running Time 103:48
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (86:44) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Phil Grabsky

Universal Pictures Home Video
Starring Muhammed Ali
Case ?
RPI $29.95 Music Various

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio Unknown Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

    I am an Ali fan. In fact, a signed and framed photograph of Ali winning his 1965 fight against Sonny Liston hangs on my lounge-room wall. There's Ali standing over the lifeless and dazed Liston, Ali's taunting him "What's my name?!!" It remains one of the most famous sporting photographs ever. Ali had taken exception to Liston calling him by his birth (slave) name, Cassius Clay. Like everything that Ali did, his retribution was world famous.

    Muhammad Ali: Through The Eyes Of The World is a fascinating and absorbing documentary about the life of Ali, a man who defied his poor black upbringing in America's South to become a record three times World Heavyweight Boxing Champion, and according to Clive James, the second most recognisable person on this planet (after Bruce Lee). The majority of the documentary is comprised of archival footage, but there are also a number of interviews with family, friends, journalists, and a wide range of other people including musician BB King, actor Rod Steiger, singer Tom Jones, artist Leroy Neiman, poet Maya Angelou, boxing historian Bert Sugar, lawyer JJ Hooker, and comedians Billy Connolly and Billy Crystal. There are also interviews with a number of boxers, including contemporaries of Ali such as George Foreman, and current champs, such as Lennox Lewis.

    Ali remains a loveable, ebullient braggart, with a history of charismatic performances in and out of the ring. This documentary offers, to my mind, the most complete record of Ali's boxing career. There are clips of Ali winning his gold medal fight at the 1960 Olympics, and his first professional fight later that year. There are also clips of Ali facing Henry Cooper (1963), Sonny Liston (1964, 1965); Ali's comeback against Jerry Quarry (1970); Ali's brutal 15-round battle with champion Joe Frazier (1971), and their rematches in 1974 and 1975; Ali's 'rumble in the jungle' against the monster-champ George Foreman (1974); and Ali winning the championship belt a record third time against the great Leon Spinks (1978).

    To put his boxing career in to a historical context, there is also news footage of Martin Luther King Jr, and his funeral; Bobby Kennedy's assassination; and Malcolm X. The documentary also delves into Ali's involvement with the Nation of Islam, and what Ali achieved as a black role model in a segregated America. Some attention is also given to Ali's refusal to be drafted into the Vietnam War, and white America's reaction by stripping him of his boxing titles. Some of the more negative aspects of Ali's life are also presented, including family members discussing his failures as a father and/or husband.

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Transfer Quality


    The transfer is great, and is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, 16x9 enhanced. While much of the archival footage has problems due to the age of the source material, it never becomes distracting. My comments below refer to the sections of the documentary that are not archival footage.

    The picture is very sharp and clear, and a pleasure to watch on a widescreen television. The black level, shadow detail and colour are all fine.

    There are some very minor MPEG artefacts. For example, there is mild pixelization at times, such as in the background at 65:55. Also, some faces display mild posterization such as at 85:09. There is also some mild aliasing, such as on the brick wall at 5:33.

    There are no film artefacts, but there is what appears to be slight edge enhancement on occasion, such as at 85:36.

    Only English subtitles are offered, and they are very accurate.

    This is an RSDL disc, with the layer change placed between Chapters 33 and 34, at 86:44. It is smooth and as it is between scenes, it is not disruptive.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    There is only one audio track, English Dolby Digital 5.1.

    The dialogue quality and audio sync are excellent, but strangely, during the archival footage, the voices do not come from the centre speaker, but from all the speakers.

    The music comes from various sources, and mainly features southern blues which is fitting.

   The surround sound mix is quite front-heavy, which is understandable considering that this is a documentary. Occasionally the rear speakers are used to help carry the score, for example at 11:40 and 31:06, and to provide ambience, for example the traffic at 7:10. This maintains a nice soundfield while keeping the viewer firmly focussed on the screen.

    The subwoofer is used very rarely, but it does support both the score, for example at 34:38, and the effects, such as the deep bass at 84:29.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


    There are plenty of extras of good quality.


    A very simple menu, presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, 16x9 enhanced. It is static and silent.

Through The Eyes Of The World

    This extra is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, 16x9 enhanced, with Dolby Digital stereo audio. The viewer is presented with a World map, and can select various countries. A short clip of an interview with someone from that country follows, usually involving an Ali anecdote, or a comment about Ali.

Unseen Interviews

    This extra is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, 16x9 enhanced, with Dolby Digital stereo audio, and features some of the interviews that did not make it into the main feature.

Stills Gallery

    This extra is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, 16x9 enhanced, and features Ali artwork by Leroy Nieman.

Music Video -- 'Faithless' (4:19)

    This extra is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, 16x9 enhanced, with Dolby Digital stereo audio.

Fight Chronology

    This extra is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, 16x9 enhanced. It offers a text-based history of Ali's boxing career.

Ali Center Promo (2:03)

    This extra is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, 16x9 enhanced, with Dolby Digital stereo audio. The Ali Center appears to be a multi-media Ali museum in his home state of Kentucky.

Ali Featurette (2:00)

    This extra is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, 16x9 enhanced, with Dolby Digital stereo audio, and concerns G.C Ewing's biographical play entitled Ali.

Theatrical Trailer (1:16)

    This trailer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, with Dolby Digital stereo.

R4 vs R1

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

    Muhammad Ali: Through The Eyes Of The World was released on DVD in Region 1 in January 2002.

The Region 4 DVD misses out on:

The Region 1 DVD misses out on:

    I would call it even, but personally, I would favour the local release for its affordability, and its superior PAL image.


    Along with the brilliant When We Were Kings (1997), Muhammad Ali: Through The Eyes Of The World belongs in any Ali fan's collection. It offers a fascinating insight into Ali the man, Ali the boxer, and Ali the twentieth century icon.

    The video quality is excellent.

    The audio quality is very good.

    The extras are plentiful.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Brandon Robert Vogt (warning: bio hazard)
Monday, February 18, 2002
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-535, using S-Video output
DisplayGrundig Elegance 82-2101 (82cm, 16x9). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationSony STR DE-545
SpeakersSony SS-V315 x5; Sony SA-WMS315 subwoofer

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