The documentary is presented in a widescreen anamorphic presentation in the film’s original aspect ratio of 1.66:1. The documentary is as professional as they come and it shows on the video transfer as well. The image was especially tight and detailed and all of the stock footage and photos transferred quite nicely as well. The documentary exhibited amazing differentiation between black and white and it was nothing short of amazing how strong Adams’ work came through in the film. Colorful hues in the more traditional sense were left to the interview snippets, as well as Burns’ more recently shot footage and as expected, the landscapes looked appropriately lush and inviting.
Issues with the transfer were very minor, as some slight grain and artifacting were noted in a couple of areas. Print flaws were usually reserved for only the oldest of footage, while Adams’ portraits were as perfect as they come and didn’t exhibit even a hint of a flaw. Ultimately, this was an immaculate transfer that was a couple of flaws short of absolute perfection.
PBS’ transfer is right on the money and everything from Ansel’s work to the stock footage/photos used in the documentary looked great. Ultimately, Ansel Adams was very pleasing to the eyes and fans of Adams and of the PBS “American Experience” series will be quite pleased.
There’s not a whole lot to talk about on PBS’ audio transfer for Ansel Adams, as the Dolby Digital 2.0 track isn’t given a whole lot do. As expected for a documentary, it’s a very talkative affair and in Ansel Adams, all the dialogue is contained in the front surrounds and never exhibits any harshness or edginess whatsoever. Everything was crystal clear from the onset and there were no problems related to intelligibility at any time. The music in the documentary was completely appropriate for the material at hand and the soundtrack received pleasant dynamics and fidelity, without once overpowering the dialogue.
The track was properly mixed and balanced and ultimately sounded as good as you’d expect such a recently produced and well-done documentary to sound. PBS handles the transfer to DVD well and the results will be very pleasing to the viewer, although they have not included any alternate language tracks or subtitles for the film.
PSB provides no extras to supplement this entry in their “American Experience” series. However, there are a couple of links from the main menu (American Experience and PBS Online) that give you a quick text-based introduction to the “American Experience” series, as well tell you what’s available on PBS’ website to supplement the Ansel Adams documentary.
PBS, Ric Burns, and Steeplechase Films have joined forces yet again to create another engaging and masterful documentary of paramount relevance. It’s an enjoyable picture about one of America’s greatest national treasures and one that will absolutely hold your attention for the entire running time of the film.
Although the DVD doesn’t contain any extras, it’s totally solid where it counts and the story alone is worth the price of admission. Ansel Adams: A Documentary Film comes highly recommended.