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Site created 12/15/97.

review added: 9/6/02

America: A Tribute to Heroes
2001 (2002) - Warner Music

review by Brad Pilcher of The Digital Bits

America: A Tribute to Heroes Program Rating: A-

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): B/A/F

Specs and Features

120 mins, NR, full frame (1.33:1), single-sided, single-layered, Snapper case packaging, program-themed menu screens, scene access (43 chapters), languages: English (DD 2.0), subtitles: English, French, Japanese and Spanish, Closed Captioned

"We're going to try and do something…"

Ten days after the attacks of September 11, a host of celebrities and musicians came together for a two-hour telethon to raise money for victims of September 11. The celebrities, aside from speaking about victims and playing songs appropriate to the occasion, manned phone banks receiving donations for people all over the world. It was considered one of the more moving tributes to the victims. It was also a point for minor controversy when some, including celebrity no-show Rosie O'Donnell, criticized the fact that the celebrities who donated their time did not always donate from their hefty pocketbooks.

All of that aside, the telethon has now been released on DVD with all the little quirks and flaws of the live telethon taken out to present a smooth and complete capturing of that unprecedented event. Proceeds from the sale of the DVD also go to the same fund the telethon itself raised money for, so purchasing it helps out a good cause. And make no mistake. This is worth a purchase.

Almost a year later, the disc has lost a considerable amount of its emotional impact. However, as you see the real tears in some celebrity eyes, the moving statements as the telethon progressed, it hasn't lost all its emotional impact. Moreover, if you're capable of stepping away from the memorial itself, this is also a collection of some of the most beautiful music and most poignant performances delivered in one evening for one cause. Included are such legends as Stevie Wonder, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, U2, Neil Young, Billy Joel, Paul Simon and Willie Nelson. Joining them are younger acts such as Wyclef Jean, Mariah Carey, Celine Dion, Sheryl Crow, and the Dixie Chicks. The list goes on and on, and without exception they all deliver moving performances of moving pieces of music. Whether it's Bruce Springsteen kicking things off with My City of Ruin, or Wyclef Jean taking Redemption Song to all new and patriotic heights, this is a collection you'll want on your shelf.

The presentation is as good as you'll get from a TV telethon. With surprisingly nice color balances and black levels, you'll have nothing to complain about here. Since this was essentially a stage with candles and microphones, it isn't like you've got a whole lot to gaze at. The audio is solid, even considering it isn't surround sound 5.1. The musical performances are spot on, with sufficiently robust audio. All things considered this is a presentation that does its job and does it well.

You're going to have to go hungry as far as extras go. To be honest, I can't think of any they would put on here that wouldn't include some memorial extras for the victims. In any case, if you love good music or if you simply want a moving tribute to a day that changed life for all of us, this is a disc you need to pick up. At the very least, it's in support of an undeniably good cause.

Brad Pilcher

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