Review: 5-star DVD, “The Beatles Anthology”

The Beatles Anthology

The ultimate Beatles product, September 20, 2007

From the Beatles’ own mouths, this is the ultimate insider view of a cultural phenomenon that changed the world. The only downside is that, because the series was originally made for TV, the DVDs aren’t in widescreen format. You can compensate with the “zoom” aspect on your widescreen TV, which usually looks great, but on some of the old footage, heads might be cut off. Viewing in the “Just” (justify) aspect ratio gives you the whole image in widescreen, but the Fab Four (and everything else) look a bit squished. Or just watch in undistorted 4:3 aspect, with bars on the side. Any way you view it, The Beatles Anthology is a must for any current or former Beatlemaniac, as well as rock musicians or students of the art who want to know how we got to where we are today. And hearing the lads in 5.1 Dolby Sound is a thrill. The extra disc of special features offers Beatle perspectives filmed years after the original series aired. You can buy a coffee-table companion book to the Beatles Anthology series, which adds lots of color and detail not in the DVDs, and I recommend it to the serious fan, but it’s so big and heavy that it isn’t easily read in bed, or in any position, for that matter.

Update Aug. 15, 2011: Ignore my comments about aspect ratio issues (I had an old DVD player and widescreen TV back then); my newer Oppo DVD player and Panasonic plasma TV seem to have much better capability to fill the widescreen with a 4:3 image in the “full” aspect ratio without causing much, if any noticeable distortion. Looks great!