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DVD International presents
StarGaze: Hubble's View of the Universe (2000)

"Hubble has seen farther and sharper than any telescope before it."
- Narrator (unidentified)

Review By: Mark Zimmer   
Published: September 29, 2000

Stars: Various nebulae and galaxies
Other Stars: Not going there....
Director: R. LaBarge (Producer)

Manufacturer: Panasonic Disc Services Corp.
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Run Time: 00h:55m:53s
Release Date: September 26, 2000
UPC: 647715072627
Genre: documentary


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
A B+A+A C-

DVD Review

Okay, I have to admit, as a child of the 60s and a big fan of the space program, I was really excited to get this disc. Other than being far too brief, I wasn't disappointed one bit. DVD International delivers a wide variety of absolutely stunning images taken by the Hubble Space Telescope on this gorgeous disc.

The images can be accompanied solely by music, in both DD 5.1 and DTS 5.1, or narration in one of four languages can be chosen as well. Alternatively, a subtitle track can be used to read the narration without getting in the way of the music. This is a splendid method of presentation that I was very pleased to see. The one shortcoming in the narration was that the first third of the program shows deep space images while describing the history of the Hubble Space Telescope and its various travails and upgrades over the years. During this section, we are left completely in the dark as to what it is we're viewing. The balance of the program, however, gives sufficient background in the images to appreciate them more fully.

Most of the visuals are devoted to deep space shots, including various nebulae, distant galaxies and galactic clusters. These are static shots, but the point of view of presentation of the photos is always shifting, giving the sensation of seeing movement in the pictures. This greatly helps maintain interest. The last chapter, however, is devoted to time-lapse photography of the outer planets. Of particular interest are the fairly detailed shots of Mars and Jupiter. There are also quite amazing pictures of the planet Uranus, which had previously seemed rather nondescript. Wrapping this up are some fairly ill-defined but nonetheless intriguing shots of the mysterious planet (or planetoid) Pluto.

Accompanying the program as the principal soundtrack is what appears to be a full album by the musical group 2002. This has a vague, rather innocuous and drifty new age feel to it, which is not inappropriate for the subject matter. It does greatly relax the listener to the point of nearly drifting off to sleep.

The running time is an all-too-brief 55 minutes. I would have been much happier with a program twice as long; the brevity is the sole reason for the reduction in the substance grade.

Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: B+

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: The program is presented in anamorphic widescreen, and the colors and blacks are eye-popping throughout. This is one gorgeous picture. The time-lapse photography looks slightly digital, but that is obviously a function of the nature of the source material. As beautiful as anything I've ever seen on a television screen.

Image Transfer Grade: A+

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0n/ayes
Dolby Digital
5.1
English, French, German, Spanishyes
DTSn/ayes


Audio Transfer Review: As noted above, the soundtrack is pleasant but not earth-shattering. The 5.1 DD surround track is quite enveloping, and the bass, where present is solid. No hiss, noise or distortion was heard on any of the audio tracks. The music and the narration both come through cleanly.

Audio Transfer Grade: A

 

Disc Extras

Static menu with music
Scene Access with 10 cues and remote access
Music/Song Access with 10 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, German, Spanish with remote access
Packaging: other
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. 2 screen savers
  2. DVD/ROM content at http://www.stargazedvd.com
  3. Previews of Naxos Musical Journey series, Earthlight Special Edition and Marsthe Red Planet DVDs
  4. Discography for 2002
Extras Review: The extras are a little better than the usual fare from DVD International. The most prominent is a screen saver (in 4:3 format) which can be used on the DVD player, or in DVD/ROM format. The pictures from the main program cycle through randomly, with little explanatory subtitles identifying them briefly. The picture quality is quite good here as well.

We get the usual set of previews, and a discography (complete with track listings and timings of each track) for 2002. Finally, there is a weblink for more information about the program.

Not great, but better than nothing.

Extras Grade: C-

 

Final Comments

A truly stunning visual experience that will astonish you with the jaw-dropping beauty of the universe that has been completely invisible until now. Highly recommended.

 


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