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PLEASE NOTE: Michael D's is currently in READ ONLY MODE. Anything submitted will simply not be written to the database.
Lots of stuff is still broken, but at least reviews can now be looked up and read.
Earth, Wind & Fire-Shining Stars:The Official Story of Earth, Wind & Fire (2001)

Earth, Wind & Fire-Shining Stars:The Official Story of Earth, Wind & Fire (2001)

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Released 10-Sep-2001

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Documentary Main Menu Audio & Animation
Menu Animation
Featurette-Classic Performance Footage
Web Links
Rating Rated G
Year Of Production 2001
Running Time 89:11 (Case: 120)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (52:23) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Kathryn Arnold
Stephanie Bennett

Warner Vision
Starring Maurice White
Verdine White
Philip Bailey
Freddie White
Ralph Johnson
Nelson George
David Porter
Johnny Graham
John Daniels
Louis Satterfield
Larry Dunn
Andrew Wolfolk
Al McKay
Case Amaray-Opaque
RPI $39.95 Music Wind & Fire Earth

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 French
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    Earth Wind and Fire is a band. They were huge in the 70s (yes, the 1970s). This is the story of their formation and development, their decline and break-up in 1982, and their re-formation in the 90s. They describe their music as a blend of pop, rock, and funk. I'd add some jazz, some disco, and a bit of gospel to that list.

    This is much more a documentary than a musical album. Although the back cover promises "cuts from" many songs, the music is always in the background, and there is usually someone talking over it. There are four songs performed in full, but they are in the extras. The main feature is not like that, but that is not necessarily bad, as this is quite an interesting documentary. There is some modern footage of many people (most of them band members - the band had up to 14 members at a time), but more than half of the video consists of live concert footage, with occasional behind-the-scenes still photos.

    The story of Earth Wind and Fire revolves around Maurice White. He conceived the band, he formed it, he led it, he held it together, and eventually he disbanded it. This documentary traces his life before the band as well, to put things into context. He was a respected drummer before forming the band.

    One of the most visually startling parts of this documentary is the costumes. If you thought the outfits Skyhooks wore in the 70s were amazing, then you will be blown away by the costumes Earth Wind and Fire wear - there are a lot more people on stage, and they are bolder, brighter, and much more extreme. Lots of shiny fabrics, more sequins than a Latin-American dance final, and some unique touches, like an extremely over-sized white velvet beret. You could almost consider it an interesting study of what people could wear in the 70s.

    The documentary does address some of the issues that a black band had to face, but it is not heavy-handed in doing so.

    If you are interested in this disc because you want to hear Earth Wind and Fire performing, then you might want to keep looking, but I'd encourage you to consider this anyway. This is an involving story, and provides considerable insight into the writing of their songs.

    If you don't think you've heard of Earth Wind and Fire you might be surprised - I had heard the name, but I wasn't aware of having heard their music, but I recognised more of the songs than I expected to.

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

Transfer Quality


    This documentary mixes some modern footage with live concert footage, some of which dates back nearly 30 years. Concerts are notoriously difficult to film, with extreme lighting conditions and performers who are concentrating on the audience rather than the cameras. There's also some 60s TV footage, and some poor quality still photos. All-in-all, the quality of the source material for the video varies from fine to dreadful.

    All the material on this disc is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, and is consequently not 16x9 enhanced. I suspect that some of the concert footage included in the documentary may have originally been filmed in a wider aspect ratio, but I have no evidence of this other than the framing of some of the shots. This aspect ratio is definitely the correct aspect ratio for the documentary, however.

    The sharpness is extremely variable. The modern interview footage is nice and sharp, with decent shadow detail and no significant artefacts. The sharpness of the concert footage varies from fair to poor, even dreadful. Shadow detail is generally terrible (which is normal for concert footage - blame the lighting). Some of the cuts display horrible low level noise (mercifully, these are generally short cuts). I think we have to look at this footage from the point of view of historical value, not aesthetics.

    Colours are given a major workout. The modern footage is essentially perfect, but boring - there's not a lot of colour to look at. The concert footage varies. The black-and-white footage doesn't offer a lot of colour, but some of the colour footage is amazing - the costumer must have been given a mandate to exhaust the colour palettes available. Some of the footage is a bit washed out (I'm scared to think how bright the colours might have been otherwise), but not all of it. There is no significant colour bleeding or oversaturation.

    There is a wide range of artefact types, but I consider this both understandable and much more forgivable than in a movie. The footage displaying the artefacts has historical value, and there is nothing better available. We do get some noticeable aliasing, some scratches, and assorted other blemishes. Oh, and something stuck to the camera lens at around 30:46.

    There are six subtitle tracks, but all of them are in languages I can't understand, so I cannot comment on the accuracy of the subtitles. Strangely, there are no subtitles in English. Perhaps they thought that English speakers would need to be able to hear to appreciate the music.

    The disc is single sided and RSDL-formatted with the layer change at 52:23. The layer change is quite obvious on some players, with the sound seeming to be interrupted, yet on another player the interruption seemed less obvious.

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


    There are two soundtracks in the concert footage extra, but there's only one soundtrack to the documentary. It is English, presented as stereo LPCM at 1536 kbps. At that rate, I'd have expected better quality sound, but I guess we're limited by the quality of the original sound capture. There's a dreadful burr or buzz at 19:10, and some bad feedback at around 86:30.

    Dialogue is clear and easily understood during all of the interview segments. The singing is generally clear, but we lose some words - sometimes it is hard to tell if we are missing words or they are singing scat.

    The music is all Earth Wind and Fire - you were maybe expecting Beethoven? We don't get any of the songs in full, but they form an excellent backdrop to the documentary. In general, where they are discussing a song in detail we get that song behind the words. 

    The LPCM track is not directed to the surrounds or subwoofer, which is a shame - they could have used the surrounds for the music. Most of the track is central and monophonic, but there's a surprising opening up of the stereo image at around 39:30, although it doesn't last too long.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use



    The menu is animated, with sound.

Photo Gallery (3:11)

    This is not what I expected as a photo gallery (I was expecting stills, with manual movement). This is a sequence of stills, changing every 5 seconds. Many of these stills have already been seen in the documentary.


    This is an interesting way of presenting a discography. We get to see the cover of each album they released, with about a minute of commentary on each from Maurice White. There are 17 covers in all, including (at the end) some "greatest hits"-type collections.

Classic Concert footage (18:26)

    A bit disappointing, this. There are only four songs in this extra, and they serve more as an advertisement for two concert videos. The soundtrack is offered in Dolby Digital 5.1 or PCM, but I could discern little difference - the 5.1 track does not seem to use the surrounds heavily.

Web Links

    This is a static page listing two web addresses you may consult.

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 appears to be identical to this one, except that it is NTSC. I prefer the PAL version, thanks.


    This is a good documentary. I was surprised at how interested I became in it. For fans of Earth Wind and Fire I'd rate this a must-have.

    The video quality is very variable, but acceptable.

    The audio quality is variable, but is generally acceptable.

    The extras aren't bad.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Tony Rogers (bio-degrading: making a fool of oneself in a bio...)
Friday, September 14, 2001
Review Equipment
DVDArcam DV88, using Component output
DisplaySony VPH-G70 CRT Projector, QuadScan Elite scaler (Tripler), ScreenTechnics 110. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVC-A1SE
SpeakersFront Left and Right: Krix Euphonix, Centre: Krix KDX-C Rears: Krix KDX-M, Subwoofer: Krix Seismix 5

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