America: A Tribute to Heroes (2001)

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Released 1-Mar-2002

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Music Menu Animation
Web Links
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 2001
Running Time 121:09 (Case: 120)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,3,4,5,6 Directed By None Given
Studio
Distributor

Warner Vision
Starring Tom Hanks
George Clooney
Will Smith
Kelsey Grammer
Jim Carrey
Cameron Diaz
Robin Williams
Calista Flockhart
Tom Cruise
Ray Romano
Julia Roberts
Chris Rock
Robert De Niro
Case Click
RPI $39.95 Music Various


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Linear PCM 48/16 2.0 (1536Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
French
Italian
Spanish
German
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    Tuesday, September 11 2001. A day that none of us will ever forget. I certainly don't need to add any of my thoughts to the events that occurred on this day. Everyone knows exactly what happened and the effects that it has had on many people, and there is nothing to be gained from me rambling on about it. On to the description of this disc then...

    After that terrible day, many people wanted to know what they could do to help. Those in the entertainment industry decided to stage a Telethon to raise funds for the relief effort for the victims left behind. As a result, some ten days later America - A Tribute To Heroes was broadcast on all the networks in the US. I remember seeing some of this on Channel Seven on the morning of Saturday 22 September, so it must have been beamed almost live to Australia as well. The format for the telethon saw various musical artists performing songs in studios in New York, Los Angeles, and London. This wasn't just a musical show though. Between each musical act, actors and other entertainers read stories of heroism from the day the towers fell, and vision is provided of many other top grade actors and entertainers taking phone calls from the public pledging donations. There was a small amount of vision of the aftermath of the attacks, such as people praying for loved ones and holding vigils and moments of silence. Thankfully, there is nothing of the actual events unfolding (which is just as well - I think we've all seen it enough).

    A stellar bunch of artists gave up their time to perform. Acts such as Bruce Springsteen, Billy Joel, Neil Young, Sting, Stevie Wonder, Paul Simon, U2, Tom Petty, Faith Hill, Sheryl Crow, Eddie Vedder, and Celine Dion to name but a few of the 21 artists that perform songs in the 2 hour show. The songs are previously recorded numbers that have taken on new meaning in the aftermath of that fateful Tuesday. Songs such as My City Of Ruin by Bruce Springsteen, Fragile (Sting), and Imagine (Neil Young), seem to have almost been written post September 11, rather than in the period before.

    Some of the performances are quite stirring and you will see a version of particular songs that you are unlikely to hear again. Others fall a little flat (I guess the mood of the moment made it difficult for the artists as well). There is also no applause from any audience (not sure if there even was one), which also makes for a slightly alternative mood for a live show. Highlights for me included New York State Of Mind by Billy Joel and his regular band, an acoustic Livin' On A Prayer by Bon Jovi, Fragile by Sting was sublime, and as previously mentioned the opening number by 'The Boss', My City Of Ruin was so fitting, it was scary. Springsteen really can deliver with raw emotion from the heart when he needs to. Lowlights would have to be anything by Mariah Carey (it was Hero in this case) - she just can't drop that prima-donna persona for even a show of this nature when individual performances were not the reason they were there. Willie Nelson singing America The Beautiful as the closing number with the entire cast (including the actors) also seemed to struggle to get everyone involved.

    The entertainment artists that read monologues between each song are also many and varied. Actors such as Robert De Niro, Clint Eastwood, Tom Cruise, Julia Roberts, George Clooney, Jim Carrey, Cameron Diaz, and Robin Williams recount tales of heroism from ordinary people on that fateful day. They also plead with viewers to donate whatever they can to the relief fund. Many of them can also be seen taking phone call pledges in the phone-room.

    This is a single disc release only. I have seen it advertised on a couple of online stores as being a 2-disc set. I do believe that there is a 2 disc set for the benefit concert that Paul McCartney helped organise and this is due for release soon.

    The front cover of the disc states that "Royalties equal to the distributor's net proceeds from the sale of this DVD will benefit the September 11 Telethon fund".

    For the record, the following tracks are presented on the disc throughout the telethon:

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Track Listing

1. My City Of Ruin
2. Love's In Need Of Love Today
3. Walk On
4. There Will Come A Day
5. I Won't Back Down
6. Hero
7. Imagine
8. Someday We'll All Be Free
9. Wish You Were Here
10. New York State Of Mind
11. I Believe In Love
12. Everyday
13. Redemption Song
14. Hero
15. Livin' On A Prayer
16. Safe And Sound
17. Fragile
18. Long Road
19. Bridge Over Troubled Water
20. God Bless America
21. America The Beautiful

Transfer Quality

Video

    Presented full screen 1.33:1 it is obviously not 16x9 enhanced.

    A nice and sharply detailed transfer is on offer here with no edge enhancement present and with excellent shadow detail levels considering the lighting used. There are few grain issues but no low level noise. Overall, this is a very pleasing video transfer.

    Reflecting the sombre mood that pervaded the night, the colour palette on display here is also quite muted. The lighting used on the stages is very conservative, with many flickering candles in the background. The performance of Walk On by U2 was beamed in from London and for some reason was broadcast in black and white. It is also a fair bit grainier and of lower resolution than the other performances.

    I noticed no MPEG artefacts. There are few other problems with shimmer or aliasing and virtually no video artefacts of any sort.

    There are several subtitle options available. I sampled the English variety extensively and found them to be more than adequate. They are available for not just the speaking moments but also all the song lyrics which makes a nice change.

    This is a dual layered disc with RSDL formatting, though I was unable to detect the layer change, so it couldn't have been too obtrusive.

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

Audio

    I was somewhat surprised to discover that there was only one soundtrack available and this was a PCM 2.0 stereo track. Naturally enough, this is the track of choice. It an unremarkable track, though nothing too outrageous was really expected.

    Dialogue is clear and concise with no audio sync problems. All the actors' speech comes across clearly and is easy to understand. The lyrics during the songs are very prominent in the mix.

    The music is many and varied, as one would expect from a show featuring so many popular artists. Most of it is acoustic-based. Rockier numbers such as Livin' On A Prayer from Tom Petty and Wish You Were Here from Limp Bizkit and the Goo Goo Dolls John Rzeznik were played with restraint and passion.

    There is no surround channel use nor discrete subwoofer use.

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

Extras

    Few extras appear on this disc, not that they are really missed. You're not buying it for the extras, after all.

Menu Animation

    Short highlights of the various actors and musical artists performing in the background of the scene selection menu only.

Web Links

    A link to www.tributetoheroes.org. That's all.

R4 vs R1

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

    The Region 1 disc is identical to the local one. The local disc wins on price alone.

Summary

    It's quite difficult to summarise this disc. The technical aspects are adequate. They won't stretch your system to its fullest, but that's not the idea of this disc. Its purpose is to provide a fitting tribute to the people that suffered and ultimately lost their lives in the September 11 terrorist attacks. This it does well. Sure, there are large doses of sentiment (Enrique Iglesias and Mariah Carey are just a little too cloyingly emotional for my liking), but there are also some sincere and well-intentioned performances that you are unlikely to see again. I guess we all sort of hope that is the case.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Darren Walters (It's . . . just the vibe . . . of my bio)
Monday, February 25, 2002
Review Equipment
DVDLoewe Xemix 5006DD, using RGB output
DisplayLoewe Calida (84cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationHarmon/Kardon AVR7000.
SpeakersFront - B&W 602S2, Centre - B&W CC6S2, Rear - B&W 601S2, Sub - Energy E:xl S10

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