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Winstar Home Video presents
In the Christmas Spirit: A Celebration of Music and Light (1999)

"Crowded streets, many feet shuffle by.Downtown shoppers, Christmas is nigh..."
- Willie Nelson, from the song Pretty Paper

Review By: Justin Stephen   
Published: September 28, 2000

Stars: Willie Nelson, Mahalia Jackson
Manufacturer: Nimbus
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Run Time: 00h:57m:18s
Release Date: October 26, 1999
UPC: 720917306421
Genre: holiday

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer

DVD Review

Virtually every family has Christmas traditions. Two common traditions in my parent's house are driving around to look at the Christmas decorations of other homes in the neighborhood and constantly playing CDs of Christmas music on the stereo every waking hour from three days before until the evening of Christmas day. Thanks to In the Christmas Spirit from Winstar Home Entertainment, you can now do both without ever leaving the house. Think of all the gas money you'll save!

In the Christmas Spirit is just shy of one hour of Christmas music set to video footage of ornately decorated homes and streets. All but two of the twenty-five song tracks are your typical Musak-style stuff, quite obviously borrowed from several different sources considering the notable variance of sound quality. The two exceptions are track #3, "Pretty Paper" by Willie Nelson, and track #21, "Silent Night" by Mahalia Jackson. As an added feature, these two tracks are offered as "sing alongs." The lyrics can be displayed either by turning on subtitles in play or from the "Sing Along" menu option.

The producers of this video could hardly claim to have scoured the earth, or even a small city, for the best decorated homes. It's hard to say, but most of it looks like it was shot in just one neighborhood or general area. The footage seems shot on a higher-quality video camera (perhaps a news-style camera) as opposed to film. They seemed to have run well short of the fifty-seven minutes of unique footage needed to fill the presentation because, if you watch carefully, you'll notice that they cheated a little bit: shots of the same homes, often from different angles, are used multiple times. In one shot, someone, presumably the homeowner, walks out of his front door right in the middle of the shot.

While I have to give the producers credit for an interesting and perfectly marketable concept, this presentation could have been much better. Even if they had limited their video content to just well-decorated homes, surely they could have spent more time finding truly exceptional examples instead of stuff that most people could see just by driving through a random upper-middle class subdivision. Additionally, I have never been a huge fan of Musak-style Christmas music (outside of a shopping mall, where it has its place). Twenty-five tracks of different carols sung by various recording artists (as in the Nelson and Jackson tracks) would have been much preferable.

Rating for Style: B-
Rating for Substance: C


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: As I mentioned in the content review, this presentation features footage captured on video as opposed to film. Mild graininess is present in most of the shots. However, for video footage the details and colors are actually pretty good. For what it is, there isn't too much to complain about.

Image Transfer Grade: B


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes

Audio Transfer Review: The music on In the Christmas Spirit is presented in 2.0 stereo. Because the musical offerings were compiled from various sources, the actual audio quality varies, sometimes dramatically. Overall, it is comparable to your average Christmas music CD.

Audio Transfer Grade: B-


Disc Extras

Static menu
Music/Song Access with 25 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, for two songs only with remote access
Packaging: Alpha
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single
Layers Switch: n/a

Extra Extras:
  1. Two sing-along tracks complete with subtitles
  2. Random play/shuffle feature
Extras Review: Two of the tracks are sing-alongs, accessible either through a separate "Sing Along" submenu or by using the subtitle key on your remote. Individual songs can be selected via a static play list. Lastly, the tracks can be played in random order using the "Shuffle" menu option.

Extras Grade: C


Final Comments

In the Christmas Spirit: A Celebration of Music and Lights is an interesting idea not very well realized. However, with its low $14.98 MSRP, it may very well be worth picking up to add some additional flair to your home's humdrum Christmas atmosphere.


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