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The Official Inaugural Celebration

review by Zach B.



Rating: TV-PG

Running Time: 206 Minutes

Starring: President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, Jack Black, Steve Carell, Rosario Dawson, Jamie Foxx, Tom Hanks, Samuel L. Jackson, Ashley Judd, Martin Luther King III, Queen Latifah, Laura Linney, George Lopez, Kal Penn, Marisa Tomei, Denzel Washington, Forest Whitaker, Tiger Woods, Beyoncé, Mary J. Blige, Jon Bon Jovi, Sheryl Crow, Renée Fleming, Master Sgt. Caleb Green, Josh Groban, Herbie Hancock, Heather Headley, Bettye LaVette, John Legend, The Rob Matthews Band, John Mellencamp, Jennifer Nettles, Pete Seeger, Bruce Springsteen, James Taylor, U2, Usher, Will.i.am, Stevie Wonder, Jay-Z, Alicia Keys, Sting, Faith Hill, Anti-Gravity, Vanessa Williams, Ray Romano, Kate Walsh, Lucy Liu, Leonardo DiCaprio, Kerry Washington, Nick Cannon

Written by: George Stevens Jr., Sara Lukinson, Michael Stevens/Dave Boone

Directed by: Don Mischer/Glenn Weiss



Studio: HBO

Retail Price: $19.98

Features: None

Specs: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, English Dolby Digital 5.1, English Dolby 2.0, Spanish Dolby 2.0, English Subtitles, Spanish Subtitles, English Closed Captions, Chapters, Two-Disc Set

Released: April 13th, 2010


All the material here is presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen. There is a little noise, but the most glaring thing I noticed is artifacting — which is a little strange, since it's really 3-and-a-half hours spread over two discs. Nonetheless, it doesn't quite diminish the rest of what's here. Black levels are solid, and detail is actually rather sparkling: you can see a lot by the Mall, and the Lincoln Memorial. When it comes to close-ups, you can see plenty on the performers' faces and the clothing looks accenturated. Colors are vibrant and well-saturated too, especially in The Neighborhood Ball special, where the visuals hit a nice sweet spot. Fleshtones are spot on as well. The transfers are sharp and pristine, and in all, for what is likely to be a historical document I doubt anyone will have anything to complain about.


All the material here is presented in English Dolby Digital 5.1, and none of it disappoints. In all the programming, you'll find plenty of applause and cheers from the public, which is not muted but mixed nicely into the events to give you the feeling that you are there among them. Dialogue is 100% clear and remarkably crisp: not that you should care about Nick Cannon emceeing, but Rt. Reverand V. Gene Robinson's invocation has no distortion or flaws, and neither does Barack Obama's historic address.

The 5.1 though really shines during the musical specials, naturally: the We Are One celebration and Neighborhood Ball. Fidelity is high on both, and dynamic range is pretty good. Subwoofer use is a bit on the soft side, but otherwise, all the musical performances do sound rather bright and brim with energy. Use of the rears is strong and is pretty discrete, while the front soundstage certainly brings power. Personally, I think the mixing is stronger throughout We Are One: it's tighter and puts you in the moment more. The Neighborhood Ball has its moments, but even with the 5.1, its dynamics feel more equalized — and that it's not so much you're there, but watching a TV special.

English and Spanish subtitles are included, plus English closed captioning through your television.




President Barack Obama's inauguration is one of the most important events in modern American history, and this two-disc DVD set collects not just his address, but the ceremonies focused around the celebration (the We Are One concert, and the Neighborhood Ball). Naturally there are no supplements, but you get quite a lot of content. The transfers of the events and 5.1 mixes are great, so for those looking to re-live history and all the excitement of January 2009, this is a set worth picking up.