Gordon Parks' Shaft was like no other movie that MGM (or any other studio) had ever made. Even overlooking the obvious breakthrough inherent in its virile, aggressive, black lead character, the movie had more violence and raunchier language than almost any big studio film up to that time that wasn't a war movie. Moreover, it didn't sound like any big-studio picture ever seen before -- the Isaac Hayes score was something new and bold on its own terms, meshing perfectly with the visuals. The DVD is a reminder of just how startling this movie was in 1971. The movie made it to television in reasonably short order, shorn of its most piercing language and dialogue, which was heavily censored. Somehow, despite having been an extraordinary box-office success, it never showed up on laserdisc, so this DVD is really the first high-quality video release that the movie has yet received. Warner Home Video has done a very good transfer, particularly the letterboxed version of the film, which can also be seen in full-screen on the second side of the double-sided disc. The film itself is an above average crime thriller that wastes perhaps five minutes that it needn't have used out of its 100-minute running time. On the other hand, almost everything here is essential in the introduction of an entirely new kind of screen hero in the guise of John Shaft, as portrayed by Richard Roundtree. The DVD enhances the viewing experience not only with a fine visual representation but an excellent soundtrack. The new mastering is very clean and brings Isaac Hayes' music out more dramatically than it has sounded since the original theatrical release; additionally, the volume pumps up without distortion. The DVD, in addition to presenting the movie both full-frame and letterboxed (1.85-to-1 aspect ratio), offers a couple of nice bonuses. The first is a selection of original trailers, but the real highlight is the featurette Soul in Cinema: Filming Shaft on Location, which was made at the time of the production and shows both director Gordon Parks and composer Isaac Hayes at work, as well as the shooting of certain key scenes. The only flaw to this short is that it is precisely that, running less than 12 minutes. One wishes that Warner Home Video could have been more ambitious and perhaps commissioned a commentary track, but this is a handy addition in its own right. The menu is simple and easy to use and pops up on start-up of the disc, and the list price is a very reasonable $15.