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S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r

directed by Steve James
USA 1994

 

Two ordinary inner-city Chicago kids dare to reach for the impossible—professional basketball glory—in this epic chronicle of hope and faith. Filmed over a five-year period, Hoop Dreams, by Steve James, Frederick Marx, and Peter Gilbert, follows young Arthur Agee and William Gates and their families as the boys navigate the complex, competitive world of scholastic athletics while dealing with the intense pressures of their home lives and neighborhoods. This revelatory film continues to educate and inspire viewers, and it is widely considered one of the great works of American nonfiction cinema.

 

  Posters etc.

Theatrical Release: January 1994 - Sundance Film Festival

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Comparison:

Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC vs. Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

1) Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC LEFT
2) Criterion Collection - Region 'A' - Blu-ray RIGHT

 

Box Covers

   

Distribution Criterion Collection - Spine # 289 - Region 1 - NTSC Criterion Collection, spine #289 - Region 'A' - Blu-ray
Runtime 2:51:24  2:52:30.373 
Video 1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 5.29 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

1.33:1 1080i Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 48,853,683,365 bytes

Feature: 37,523,337,216 bytes

Video Bitrate: 24.00 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate:

Bitrate: Blu-ray

Audio English (Dolby Digital 2.0) 

DTS-HD Master Audio English 2956 kbps 4.0 / 48 kHz / 2956 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 4.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
Commentaries:

Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps

Subtitles English, None English (SDH), None
Features

Release Information:
Studio: Criterion / Home Vision

Aspect Ratio:
Original aspect Ratio 1.33:1

Edition Details:

• Two audio commentaries with stars Arthur Agee and William Gates and filmmakers Peter Gilbert, Steve James, and Frederick Marx
• Segments from Siskel and Ebert tracking the acclaim for Hoop Dreams
• Original music video
• Theatrical Trailers

• A booklet featuring a dedication to the Gates and Agee families written by the filmmakers; new essays by writer and cultural historian John Edgar Wideman, and Sports Illustrated senior writer Alexander Wolff; and Michael Wise’s Washington Post article “Looking Back at Broken Dreams”

DVD Release Date: May 10th, 2005

Keep Case
Chapters: 40

Release Information:
Studio: Criterion

Aspect Ratio:
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1

1080i Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 48,853,683,365 bytes

Feature: 37,523,337,216 bytes

Video Bitrate: 24.00 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

Edition Details:

• Two audio commentaries: one with filmmakers Steve James, Frederick Marx, and Peter Gilbert, and one with the film’s subjects, Arthur Agee and William Gates
Life After “Hoop Dreams,” a new documentary that catches up with Agee, Gates, and their families (39:50)
Additional scenes (20:52)
Collection of excerpts from Siskel & Ebert tracking the acclaim for Hoop Dreams (15:18)
Original 1994 music video for the film’s theme song (3:18)
Trailers (3:01)
PLUS: Essays by author John Edgar Wideman and filmmaker and critic Robert Greene
 

Blu-ray Release Date: March 31st, 2015
Transparent Blu-ray Case

Chapters 39

 

 

 

Comments:

NOTE: These Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

 

ADDITION: Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - February 2015': Firstly, don't be deterred by the 1080i (interlaced) transfer - it is surely a reflection of source (shot entirely with mid-level analog Hi-8 camcorders) as well as the visible 'trailing' in some of the captures. I couldn't see anything similar in-motion on my system. It seems competently absorbed by the higher resolution. This is described as a "New high-definition digital restoration, created through a collaboration between the Academy Film Archive, the Sundance Film Institute, and the UCLA Film & Television Archive". Anomalies like 'Chroma' are far more an issue on the SD. Almost 3-hours worth of film is a lot for a DVD to handle, hence the low-ish bitrate of the 2005 disc. The dual-layered Blu-ray, obviously can support the film much better and you can notice a crisper image and richer, deeper colors (notable reds) on the Blu-ray. What I am thankful for is that the less-polished realism of the documentary is still present on the new HD rendering.

 

The audio gets a bump from the old DVD - we get a DTS-HD Master in 4.0 channel Surround at a healthy 2956 kbps. There is some range and especially depth exported by the track. The score is credited to Ben Sidran with pieces entitled Hoop Dreams, Low Post and the Dream Theme. It sounds both impressive but not out of place with the video. Excellent. There are optional English subtitles on the region 'A'-locked Blu-ray disc.

 

Criterion add some new supplements from their original DVD, but also keep the audio commentaries: one with filmmakers Steve James, Frederick Marx, and Peter Gilbert , and one with the film’s subjects, Arthur Agee and William Gates (Arthur's left channel, William's right) - both recorded in January 2005 in Chicago. Life After “Hoop Dreams,” a new, 40-minute, documentary that catches up with the principals. From 2004 to 2005, the makers of Hoop Dreams, in collaboration with the Criterion Collection, filmed with Arthur Agee, William Gates, and their families to document what had been happening in their lives since the film's première in 1994. This documentary presents that footage for the first time, along with interviews with the filmmakers conducted in 2014. There are also 20-minutes of additional scenes that either didn't make the final cut of Hoop Dreams or are alternate edits of scenes in the film. They are presented in order in which the events occurred in the lives of Agee and Gates. We get the same 15-minute collection of excerpts from Siskel & Ebert tracking the acclaim for Hoop Dreams attempted to galvanize support for Hoop Dreams. They begin praising the unknown documentary on its way to the Sundance Film Festival, then recommend it to the Academy Awards review committee, and finally applaud it as the best film of the 1990s. Also included are the same Music Video and trailers from the SD package. Criterion have one of their liner notes booklets - this with essays by author John Edgar Wideman and filmmaker and critic Robert Greene.

 

Along with Errol Morris' The Thin Blue Line - this is the best documentary I have ever seen in my life. Imagine both coming to Blu-ray in the same month - and both by Criterion - providing exceptional packages that belong in any digital collection. Our absolute highest recommendation!

***

ON THE DVD: Well, this looks about as good as the source material would allow. In other words "not very" - hazy with some bleeding colors.  I actually saw this in the theatre and recall noting how non-filmic it looked at that time. The manner in which it was shot actually suits the realism of this award winning documentary.

Criterion have added some optional subtitles along with the original audio and valued extra features - the two commentaries and the liner notes booklet are the real gems of this package. I hope we can compare to another edition to see for ourselves if the opposing image is any sharper.  

Gary W. Tooze

 





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Box Covers

   

Distribution Criterion Collection - Spine # 289 - Region 1 - NTSC Criterion Collection, spine #289 - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

 





 

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Gary Tooze

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