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Wellspring presents
Frontline: Muslims (2002)

"While not all Muslims share the same interpretation of Islamic law, the sheiks are troubled when people like Osama Bin Laden issue rules of their own."
- narrator

Review By: Rich Rosell  
Published: June 09, 2003

Director: Graham Judd

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (nothing objectionable)
Run Time: 01h:56m:30s
Release Date: April 15, 2003
UPC: 790658007574
Genre: documentary

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B+ A-B-B B-

DVD Review

In this installment of the PBS program Frontline, the subjects are Muslims, and more specifically what it is like to be part of a largely misunderstood religion that is often viewed by many as a source of unadulterated hatred and violence. The global reach of Islam, which makes up 1/5 of the world's population, is continually growing, and this program attempts to focus on the various interpretations that exist amidst the Muslim community.

Frontline forgoes the usual historical recap of the religion, and opts instead for a more personal approach here, and looks at how Muslims in different countries struggle to adapt to unique variations in the tenets of the ideology, especially in the shadow of the events of September 11th. We are taken around the world, to Egypt, Iran, Malaysia, Turkey, Nigeria and the United States, and in each locale the narrative centers on a specific scenario and set of individuals. This approach works very well, as it gives the subject matter a personal voice that in some cases makes the topic (a divorce case in Malaysia or the adoration of Osama Bin Laden in Nigeria) seem all the more compelling.

As expected, the message here is one of understanding, and that the widespread influence of Islam and the fact of one being does not necessarily mean that the rules and beliefs are the same for all. The tolerance of bikinis worn by Western tourists in Malaysia is counter-balanced by a hotly contested battle over the wearing of headscarves in Turkey, while a Muslim school in Palos Heights, Illinois is looked upon with suspicion by area residents.

The message of intolerance and conservatism, both within and outside the Muslim community, is what this Frontline episode tries to capture, and it does so with the expected level of impartial intelligence.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: A-


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.78:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Rationo

Image Transfer Review: Wellspring has issued Frontline:Muslims in what appears to be a roughly 1.78:1 nonanamorphic widescreen transfer. Colors and fleshtones are natural, though not as deeply saturated as a feature film presentation would be. The print is nick-free, though some of the footage used does have some noticeable haloing and ringing at times.

Image Transfer Grade: B-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishno

Audio Transfer Review: Frontline narrator Will Lyman has a low, basso profundo voice, and on the provided 2.0 surround track it sounds wonderfully deep and resilient. As with most documentaries, the presentation is built around the front speakers for the most part, with the interview segments and narration sounding crisp and well mixed.

Audio Transfer Grade: B


Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 13 cues and remote access
Cast and Crew Biographies
Weblink/DVD-ROM Material
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. Basic Tenets of Islam
  2. Weblinks and Resources
Extras Review: As extras, Wellspring has included a few text screens of content: the Basic Tenets of Islam, producer biographies, as well as some weblinks. DVD-ROM extras include an Islamic timeline, text transcript and a teacher's guide.

The disc is cut into a meager 13 chapters.

Extras Grade: B-


Final Comments

It never hurts to expand your mind a little, and Frontline: Muslims will likely do just that if you allow it. Instead of a dry historical recap of the history of Islam, this program globe-hops and reveals, through individual stories, the religion's expansive reach, as well as some of the truths and misunderstandings surrounding it.



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