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Kultur presents
Wimbledon: The 2004 Official Film (2004)

"Once it's all over, you're very relieved."
- Roger Federer, the 2004 Wimbledon men's singles champion

Review By: David Krauss   
Published: October 06, 2004

Stars: Roger Federer, Maria Sharapova, Andy Roddick, Serena Williams
Other Stars: Tim Henman, Venus Williams, Lindsay Davenport, Jennifer Capriati, Goran Ivanisevic, Wayne Ferreira
Director: Simon Birri

Manufacturer: DVSS
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (nothing objectionable)
Run Time: 52m:42s
Release Date: September 21, 2004
UPC: 032031296091
Genre: sports

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B C+B+B C+

DVD Review

The hallowed ground of the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club plays host to the world's most prestigious tennis tournament every June. Known to the British as simply The Championships but to the rest of the world as Wimbledon, this historic Grand Slam event captures international attention with its drama, history, and unshakable traditions. This past summer, defending champions Roger Federer of Switzerland and America's Serena Williams led an impressive field of challengers determined to knock them off their respective thrones. One would survive the assault, while the other would be deposed by a most unlikely pretender.

With customary British decorum, Wimbledon: The 2004 Official Film chronicles the tournament from its initial rounds of upsets and narrow escapes to the spirited finals. A few scripted (and cringingly corny) exchanges between Wimbledon workers occasionally disrupt this classy recap, but nothing can upstage the sparkling tennis and graceful athleticism that defines the event. Although such superstars as Andre Agassi, Kim Clijsters, and women's #1 Justin Henin-Hardenne sat out the fortnight due to injury, stalwarts like Andy Roddick, Venus Williams, Lindsay Davenport, Lleyton Hewitt, Jennifer Capriati, and perennial British favorite Tim Henman picked up the slack and dazzled spectators with blazing serves, crisp volleys, and blistering ground strokes.

As usual, rain tried its best to steal the spotlight, but even the steady dose of showers that would force officials to schedule play on the tournament's middle Sunday for only the third time in history couldn't dampen enthusiasm. Former champion Goran Ivanisevic finally returned to Wimbledon after two years of nagging injuries for one final hurrah. After winning two matches, he gracefully exited in the third round, and bid a heartfelt farewell to the scene of his greatest triumph. Venus Williams also went home early after a shocking second round upset that featured an inadvertent—yet critical—scoring error by the chair umpire during the second set tiebreak.

Predictably, Wimbledon 2004 provides extensive coverage of the home-grown Henman, the boyish 29-year-old who carries the onerous burden of national expectations upon his slight shoulders every year. His quarterfinal dismissal deflated local spectators, but a sexy 17-year-old named Maria Sharapova did her best to make them forget their misery. Part of the "Russian Revolution," a procession of talented young female players that included French Open champion Anastasia Myskina, Elena Dementieva, Nadia Petrova, Vera Zvonareva, and future U.S. Open winner Svetlana Kuznetsova, the pony-tailed Sharapova diffused Serena Williams' power during a surprisingly quick final to become Wimbledon's newest queen.

On the men's side, Federer and Roddick waged war on Centre Court in a thrilling final that pitted the American's lightning fast serves and ferocious forehands against the Swiss player's mind-boggling angles and all-court agility. Federer emerged the victor after four hard fought sets, successfully defending his title.

Wimbledon 2004 tries its best to report on all aspects of the tournament, with match coverage, interviews with players and officials, and even a mini feature on the design and future construction of a retractable Centre Court roof vying for disc space. As a result, the 52-minute film shortchanges viewers of what they want most—tennis action. Doubles is completely ignored, and the later singles rounds don't receive as much in-depth attention as they deserve. Showing a few points from each contest only gives fans the slightest competitive flavor, while choppy editing mangles the flow of those points, with close-up shots of individual players favored over more traditional and tennis-friendly camera angles.

Granted, this is only a highlight film, but one expects the world's most esteemed tennis tournament to produce a home video that equals the event's stature. Wimbledon: The 2004 Official Film doesn't quite double fault, but definitely makes a few critical unforced errors.

Rating for Style: B
Rating for Substance: C+


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: It's not often that a sports video is presented in anamorphic widescreen, but this Wimbledon highlight film fills every inch of a 16x9 TV. Of course, at the All England Club grass reigns supreme, and this vivid transfer makes every finely clipped blade gleam. In addition to lovely color saturation (the rare glimpses of blue sky also impress), contrast and clarity are top-notch, crowd shots possess plenty of detail, and the players' tennis whites remain solid and well-modulated.

Image Transfer Grade: B+


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishno

Audio Transfer Review: The Dolby stereo track sounds rich and full, with narration and interviews easy to understand. Crowd noise adds a touch of ambience, and distortion is never an issue, not even when Serena and Sharapova exchange ear-splitting grunts.

Audio Transfer Grade: B


Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 15 cues and remote access
Packaging: generic plastic keepcase
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. Golden Moments from the Archive
  2. Rolex commercial
Extras Review: Golden Moments from the Archive presents five historical match clips (each running only a paltry minute), featuring two classic encounters between Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova, Pete Sampras' record seventh men's singles championship, the incredible victory of wild-card Goran Ivanisevic, and Justin Henin's semifinal upset of Jennifer Capriati in 2001.

A tennis-themed Rolex commercial is the only other extra offered.

Extras Grade: C+


Final Comments

Break out the strawberries and cream, pour a glass of bubbly, and relive the drama and excitement of Wimbledon 2004. Although this too-brief highlight film could have included far more tennis action, it still offers a comprehensive overview of the tournament, its athletic cast, and the unique ambience that makes Wimbledon such a special and anticipated event. A picture-perfect anamorphic transfer and a few historical extras make this a jolly good keepsake for tennis fans.


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