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Palm Pictures presents
"The great thing about art is that it serves no purpose."
DVD Review1 Giant Leap represents an extensive, multimedia collaboration created by Duncan Bridgeman and Jaime Catto with the purpose of bringing together international musicians as well as tackling some rather heavy social subjects at the same time. The goal is relatively simple: to express the diversity of world culture in a compact way, through a set of music videos specifically designed to represent individual concepts. The end result, seen here on this DVD, is quite overwhelming and is arguably one of the most radical media projects to come along in recent years. At first glance, 1 Giant Leap seems almost too ambitious. Bridgeman and Catto wanted interview footage with many important social and musical figures as well as music tracks featuring an amazing variety of ethnic players and instrumentation and have all of it conform to a specific ideal or theme. Surprisingly, though, the project works in a way that is almost too perfect to have been achieved without the intervention of something spiritual.
Divided into 12 individual sections, each piece has a topic; for example, Time. In this piece, people discuss their thoughts on the subject of time while, in the background, music is slowly introduced: a kaleidoscope of danceable rhythms mixed with everything from Indian flutists, Maori tribesmen, Australian didgeridoos and so on. Not only is the music outstanding and extremely well integrated into the piece, but the artistry of the assembled footage and interviews is also very important. The end result is a group of 12 amazing meditations on various topics, each with a very potent and obvious message communicated on many levels. It's ironic that I just reviewed Koyaanisqatsi, because 1 Giant Leap, in many ways, is a kind of update of the concepts behind that landmark film. While not as somber and introspective, it still has the obvious goal of inspiring viewers to think in a dynamic way about the proposed topics, using flashy, unreal imagery and musical skill to draw you further in.
The musical personalities on the disc represent a wide spectrum of world musicians, and though viewers may instantly recognize faces like Michael Stipe or Robbie Williams, they are, in fact, only a fraction of the talent represented. Truth be told, I've never heard so many ethnic styles mixed together in such a natural sounding way; typically, mixing cultural standards results in awkward sounds, but Bridgeman and Catto obviously have an ear for mixing these exotic tunings. The interviewees and spoken word contributors include Dennis Hopper, Kurt Vonnegut, Michael Franti (former member of Disposible Heroes of HipHoprisy and social critic), Ram Dass (a.k.a. Richard Alpert), and Brian Eno, offering a broad scope of personal philosophies and opinions on subjects such as money, death and God.
1 Giant Leap is structured so that it, in essence, has no structure. Allowing viewers to order how they view the project rather than structuring it as a "film" makes everything more attuned to the individual viewer—another clever move on the part of the filmmakers. It also goes along with the idea that each segment should be reflected on before moving onto the next. It's up to the individual how he or she approaches it; it can be watched straight through as a movie, but presenting options is an interesting idea. Truly, the ambition to make something important and long-lasting is tangible here, and I think that all the hard work and world travel has unquestionably paid off.
Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: A
Image Transfer Review: It seems most of 1 Giant Leap was filmed on digital video, and as a result, the image is quite flawless and impressive. Many of the segments use visual effects, but there are no issues with compression. Colors are extremely vibrant and atmospheric, reflecting the mood of the filming locations. Anamorphic enhancement does not seem to have added any major aliasing problems, and this crisp transfer is without any side-effects, such as rainbows or interlacing.
Image Transfer Grade: A-
Audio Transfer Review: The Dolby 5.1 soundtrack is truly an aural wonder. Completely immersive and filled with directionality and hefty surround usage, the music comes from all directions in a whirling mixture that really explodes around you. It is a powerful mix, obviously aiming for high standards. There are literally no complaints here. The dialogue during the segments is a bit harsh and collapsed sometimes into the center channel; however, it would seem this is so that people can turn down (or off) the center channel if they would prefer to listen to the 5.1 mix without any dialogue or sound effects. The Dolby Surround track has slightly better dialogue (since the stereo soundfield is not center-based), but lacks the total dimension of the 5.1. It sounds very good, though. Those with the capability, however, should definitely use the 5.1 version.
Audio Transfer Grade: A-
Disc ExtrasAnimated menu with music
Scene Access with 12 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Spanish with remote access
The disc features two additional songs that are not part of the feature program, but follow the same general flow; however, these songs have nothing to do with any one particular topic.
Finishing off the disc's presentation is a rather thick (25+ pages) keepcase booklet featuring quotes, photographs, and bios of the personalities and musicians in the show. It also has some notes on traveling to the countries featured on the disc as well as complete and full credits for every aspect of production.
Of special note is that the 'Sex' portion of the disc is parentally locked on its own, so if your player is normally locked, keep that in mind.
Extras Grade: B-
Final CommentsIntense and thought-provoking, 1 Giant Leap is, in fact, a giant leap for productions of this sort. A collaboration that ebbs and flows so naturally, this project is truly astounding at times. Never pretentious or heavy-handed in its message, it delivers a solid dose of music, philosophy, and mood enhancement. In every way an idea like this should work, 1 Giant Leap does. Brilliant.
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