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Sony Pictures Home Entertainment presents
Cirque du soleil: Solstrom—The Complete Series (2003)

"Little did I know that nothing on Earth would ever be the same."
- Dr. Fogus Punch (John Gilkey)

Review By: Chuck Aliaga  
Published: April 27, 2005

Stars: Cirque du soleil
Director: various

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (nothing objectionable)
Run Time: 09h:45m:00s
Release Date: April 26, 2005
UPC: 043396108431
Genre: special interest


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
A A-A+A C-

DVD Review

The wonderful dance troupe/circus that is Cirque du soleil has been entertaining audiences around the world for over two decades. Not content with having traveling shows, the group has taken a huge bite out of the Las Vegas entertainment scene as well, with no less than four shows running concurrently. They've even broadened the style of their typical performance with the show Zumanity, which features topless performers and is considered the "sexy" version of Cirque du soleil. I recently caught a performance of this show, and it is, indeed sexier than we've come to expect from the group, but it still has that Cirque feel, complete with numerous daring, acrobatic feats.

Jumping back a bit to 2003, the troupe branched out from their standard theater/arena shows, and brought their amazing talents to television in the form of an original series called Solstrom. Airing overseas in various TV markets, the show debuted on American television on the Bravo network, which was the perfect home for the production's eclectic nature.

The lone season of Solstrom consisted of 13 hour-long episodes, all of which are spread out over the five DVDs in this new set. This show takes the signaturel experience (and for those who have never had the pleasure of seeing a show live, it is most definitely an experience) to the next level, incorporating a great deal of comedy into the overall mix of music, acrobatics, and dramatic storylines.

The basic premise of Solstrom revolves around the enigma of the Solar Wind, a force that turns normal, everyday life into a magical world full of color, music, and dancing. Dr. Fogus Punch is always on hand, as he has the power to transform these normal, everyday people into acrobats, dancers, jugglers, and other incredibly gifted performers.

Each episode of the show has its own separate storyline, although the central premise remains intact throughout, blending newly shot footage and characters with sequences and characters from existing Cirque shows (including "O" and La Nouba). Solstrom is truly an incredible escape from the humdrum that is television these days. As if the theatrics and daring "surreal" circus acts aren't compelling enough, we have a wonderfully whimsical story that sucks the viewer in and actually enhances the performances. Plus, these performers are simply amazing, twisting their bodies in ways seemingly impossible and defying death with each and every mid-air leap or trick they perform from great heights.

A breakdown of the 13 episodes of the series is as follows:

Wind of Romance: A village in Italy is transformed into a festival filled with passionate encounters.

Twin Winds: A vain man sees himself as a celebrity, and is looking at himself in the mirror, when two "Nuts" blow some Solar Wind at him. When the man's mirror won't work anymore, he tries to investigate the device and winds up falling into it, transporting him into a very strange new world.

Howling Wind: A pair of zebras from "O" blows some Solar Wind into a rundown hotel, turning it into a gothic manor where a myriad of strange events occur.

Rockin' Wind: An orchestra is having a hard time rehearsing, as the musicians are making things very difficult for the conductor. This craziness soon involves some of the musicians turning into acrobats, making things even worse.Once Upon a Wind: Gaya and Quidam have blown the Solar Wind into a storybook, turning those that touch it into adventure heroes.

Wind of Freedom: Prison guards have to deal with a bumbling new inmate who hasn't exactly won over his fellow convicts. With the help of the Solar Wind, however, the new inmate joins the rest of the bunch in escaping with magical ease.

Ghostly Wind: A mysterious creature from Drailon slips by a night watchman, and into a costume warehouse, bringing the clothing to life.

Gone with the Winds: An airport employee has been exposed to Solar Wind and soon finds herself in the American desert.

Wind from the Past: When Old Max and Eddie jump into a toy box, Old Max literally becomes a kid again.

Wind of Imagination: A small boy is playing in a sandbox when the Guide from Varekai uses Solar Wind to enhance his playing experience.

Wind of Life: In Salzburg on Christmas Eve, a craftsman is dreaming about bringing his small wooden puppet to life. When Solar Wind is blown on the toys in the shop, the puppet isn't the only thing that springs to life.

Wind of Courage: A huge sports fan is shocked when his TV bursts into flame while he's watching a game. When he is eventually sucked into the TV, he finds himself participating in some of the strangest sports he's ever seen.

Cosmic Wind: An entire planet is made up of a disco, which is difficult to get into. Some earthly celebrities even pop up from time to time at this strange location.

Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: A-

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.78:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: This aspect of the Superbit treatment is presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen, and the images practically leap off the screen. The amazingly vivid color scheme that plays a huge part of every Cirque du soleil show is out in full force for Solstrom. From the colorful costumes to the unique set design, the imagery approaches a quality only matched by the likes of the recent film House of Flying Daggers. The exquisitely detailed images are another plus, along with true shadow levels and deep, solid blacks. There isn't a bit of grain or dirt to be found either, rounding out a near perfect visual treat of a transfer.

Image Transfer Grade: A+

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital
5.1
Englishyes
DTSEnglishyes


Audio Transfer Review: Music is almost as big a part of the show as the visuals, and fortunately, we have the option of either a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix or a DTS one. There really isn't much of a difference between the two, as both are very involving, with the DTS track getting the slight edge thanks to a wider dynamic range that even the most avid audiophile might not even notice. A great deal of bass can be heard also, and the dialogue is always sharp and distinct as well.

Audio Transfer Grade: A

 

Disc Extras

Animated menu with music
Scene Access with 13 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Chinese, Korean, Thai, Spanish, Portuguese with remote access
3 Other Trailer(s) featuring Cirque on DVD, Fire Within DVD, Cirque Club
1 Documentaries
Packaging: Nexpak
Picture Disc
5 Discs
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. Photo Gallery: Collection of still photos from Solstrom.
Extras Review: The only extras in the set are on Disc 5, and there really aren't that many. The most notable is the documentary, Making of Solstrom, a 17-minute piece showing how this TV show came to life and the great deal of work that the Cirque du soleil performers have to do to perfect their skills.

There is also a Photo Gallery, as well as trailers for other Cirque du soleil DVDs.

Extras Grade: C-

 

Final Comments

Cirque du soleil: Solstrom is a glorious DVD set, with all 13 episodes of the series intact. The audio and video are extraordinary in this Superbit release from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, but the miniscule amount of extras is slightly disappointing.

 


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