Standing in the Shadows of Motown
The history of soul music and the Funk Brothers, which is also a history of popular culture, is the subject of Standing in the Shadows of Motown and Artisan has done a brilliant job bringing this title to DVD. In today's style of documentary filmmaking, with grainy black-and-white mixed with beautiful color photography, the 1.78:1 anamorphic image really shines. Colors are vibrant and wonderfully saturated, while detail is quite strong for a documentary. Things only get better when it comes to the soundtrack. Presented in both Dolby Digital 5.1 EX and DTS 6.1 ES, these tracks are full of life, especially during the music numbers. Bass is strong and surrounds are used appropriately. While the movie itself would be worth the price, an amazing selection of extra features make this one a real deal. The movie is on the first disc, along with a commentary track from producer Allan Slutsky (he wrote the book that inspired the film) and director Paul Justman. Also included is a brief section called "How It All Began," which includes a short commentary from Justman about a photograph that helped influence the direction of the film and a promotional short film to help with financing, and contains additional interviews from the Funk Brothers. Finally, for the first disc, is an optional text "fact track" with even more information about these performers and the times they lived in. The second disc houses the remainder of the supplements, and there are plenty. Four featurettes comprise the bulk of material. The first, "Dinner With the Funk Brothers" is a roundtable with the artists as they discuss their love, friendship, and appreciation of those they worked with. The next is "The One's That Didn't Make It," which is a very emotional and sincere elegy for those band members that are no longer with us. In addition to this is "At Long Last Glory," covering the new-found success of these musicians due to this film, and the fourth is a biography section, told in a video for the Funk Brothers, and text for the main crew members. Nearly 30 minutes of deleted scenes are also included, with most being behind-the-scenes material. While hardly revelatory, they are a welcome addition. Next is a "multi-angle" jam session, also in 5.1 Dolby Digital. Fine music, but with only two angles, it doesn't offer much. Finally, along with a music video montage that is only so interesting, is a trailer for The Temptations, discographies, and "Honorable Mentions," describing other artists who worked for Motown. Last, but not least, are some DVD-ROM materials, including an high-definition version of the entire film and an interactive virtual recording studio. Enough praise can't be given to this disc and for the extra mile that Artisan went to make it as good as it is.