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The Jewish Americans

review by Zach B.

 

 

Running Time: 360 minutes

Written and Directed by: David Grubin

 

Studio: Paramount

Retail Price: $24.99

Features: Interview with Filmmaker David Grubin, Jewish Cooking with Gil Marks, Rosh Hashanah Ceremonial Scene

Specs: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, English Stereo, Scene Selection (10 scenes per episode)

Released: February 5th, 2008

 

 

"The Jewish Americans" is presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen. The series looks good overall, but there is a mish-mash of footage presented. The stock footage is watchable but obviously isn't in the best shape, but the newly filmed interviews look nice with fine fleshtones and color saturation. There's a little bit of noise, but overall, this documentary looks pretty sharp. 

 

"The Jewish Americans" is presented in English Stereo. There actually are some stereo effects to be had that add a little life to the proceedings, be it the musical cues or even sound effects from some of the old footage (namely, when the Jews are at war). It's limited when compared to 5.1 tracks, but it's still a nice touch. Other than that, there's the crispness of Leiv Schreiber's narration and all the interviewees are easy to hear.

English closed captions are also included.

 

The second disc has some extra features, that last only a little over 10 minutes in total. First up is an Interview with Filmmaker David Grubin. All at once, this is an introduction and conclusion to the mini-series. Its writer/director gives a bit of background on Jewish history, gives a lot of praise to those who contributed interviews and passionately talks about what he wanted to feature here. Certainly worth a gander if you enjoyed Grubin's work here.

Jewish Cooking with Gil Marks has the Rabbi speak about the importance of Jewish meals and finally, there's a cut scene entitled Rosh Hashanah Ceremonial Scene featuring The Storahtelling Company's founder, Amichai Lau-Lavie. I wish Grubin would have discussed why he didn't place this scene, or parts of it, in his documentary (time constraints?). But come to think of it, I'm not sure where some of this would have properly fit in Grubin's narrative. 

 

David Grubin's "The Jewish Americans" is an excellent, well-researched documentary mini-series that traces the past 350 years of Jewish life in the United States - everything from traditions to contributions Jews have made. The supplements unfortunately don't last too long, and . But the reason to watch this is for the content, and with that said, this piece comes highly recommended.