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Site created 12/15/97.

review added: 8/19/99

Sarah McLachlan: Video Collection 1989-1998
(1999) Nettwerk Productions

review by Frank Ortiz, special to The Digital Bits

Sarah McLachlan: Video Collection 1989-1998 Program Ratings: B-

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): C/C+/C-

Specs and Features

62 mins (approx), NR, full frame (1.33:1), single-sided, single-layered, Amaray keep case packaging, 15 music videos (see song list below), programed-themed menu screens, scene access (15 chapters - one per song), languages: English (DD 2.0), subtitles: none

VH1 may give you two or three videos, but how about fifteen videos from Sarah McLachlan? I was definitely looking forwarding to getting this disc in hand, and giving it a few spins. This DVD takes you through the artist's songs, with visual interpretations by several different directors (including Sarah McLachlan, who directed one video and co-directed another). This is a neat experience for those that may not have seen many of her videos. You even get Canadian versions of some of them, which are very interesting to see.

The videos that have a short story, or lyrical imagery (like Steaming and Building a Mystery) are more interesting for me than others. It's a little difficult for me to enjoy the richness in words and music that Sarah McLachlan presents in a simple video, but I found it easy to watch parts here and there, just sort of skipping around. I find that she puts so much of herself into her music, that it's difficult to put that same energy into a video (unless it's a concert video, maybe).

The DVD's main menu lists each song, and shows a snapshot from the video. Each song also comes with some additional information, such as the song title and length, the album the song appeared on, the video's director, the song's producer, author and publishing company, and any related release the song may be found on. Since the songs each are chaptered on the DVD, you can watch the whole program straight through, or skip through the songs in non-linear fashion, which is handy (I liked being able to listen to the Canadian version of Possession for example, then, with the click of a button, watch the U.S. Version for comparison).

The video quality is okay. The screen aspect ratios vary, as does color (some of the video is black and white). There are quite a few muted colors, perhaps some meant to soften the overall visual mood. The contrast and color are actually a bit poor at times, due to the age of some of the videos - you definitely notice an increase in clarity and vibrancy as you watch the newer work (particularly the three most recent videos). FYI - the video Drawn to the Rhythm is presented in matted letterbox widescreen format, and some has some "edging" problems that bothered me (but I did enjoy the black and white effect, with one brief color on a flying bird). The U.S. version of Possession has many "dirty film" effects added to it, which is clearly the artistically-intended look.

The sound is fine in Dolby Digital 2.0. I would really like to hear a remastered DD 5.1 version, but I suppose I can't have everything I want, right? This just good old fashioned stereo quality. It sounded fine, but if it had been remixed in 5.1, it would have been that much cooler. As I mentioned earlier, the extras are basically just "discographic" information for each song. It would have been nice to have, for example, a complete discography of Sarah McLachlan's career, or a behind-the-scenes featurette on the making of one of the videos, or even a look in the studio during a recording session - some of the kinds of extras that are found on the Enhanced CD parts of her music CDs. I think this was something of a missed opportunity, given DVD's capabilities. Oh well.

This is nice collection to enjoy on DVD. As for me, I would like to see a nicely produced concert DVD from one of her tours. But in the meantime, this is a good disc to add to your collection, particularly if you're a fan of Sarah McLachlan.

Video/Song List

Vox (Canadian Version)
Ben's Song
Vox (U.S. Version)
The Path Of Thorns (Terms)
Into The Fire
Drawn To The Rhythm
Possession (Canadian Version)
Hold On
Good Enough
(U.S. Version)
I Will Remember You
Building A Mystery
Sweet Surrender

Frank Ortiz

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