- reviewed by Russ Breimeier Copyright Christianity Today International
- 2003 1 Nov
With the DVD phenomenon now firmly established in culture, more and more artists are releasing videos in response to the demand for the format. Steven Curtis Chapman released his first DVD in 2002 with
Backed by lead guitar, bass, drums, and two keyboardists,
It's a combination of rock opera and history channel, with actual video footage of these missionaries serving in South America, leading to both tragedy and the redemption of the tribe for Christ—including some of the killers. The segment concludes with stirring testimonies by Nate's son Steve Saint, as well as Mincaye, one of the murderers who later became a Christian. It's a powerful presentation that every Christian should see at least once.
While the video's audio and visual production is good, it doesn't always show you what you want to see. For example, the camera seems more interested in one keyboard player's enthusiastic head-banging rather than his fingerwork. You get up-close views of Chapman and the band, but there's not a good overall sense of the staging and lighting. The DVD's bonus features are marginal, providing extras that might make it useful in a worship setting. You can conveniently view the videos shown during the performances of "When Love Takes You In" and the "Beyond the Gates" segment without the "interruption" of concert footage. One can also view the testimonies by Saint and Mincaye without having to search for it within the program. But there are no documentaries to be found, or DVD bells and whistles such as multiple camera angles to enhance the experience.
It's particularly frustrating that this DVD, like many today, insists on interrupting the flow of the concert with interviews and behind-the-scenes footage. Is it so hard to understand that most people simply want a video recreation of the live performance experience? Why remind the viewers that they're watching a video at home? In this case, the few brief interview segments offer nothing more insightful of Chapman's heart and intentions than the eloquent banter he shares onstage with his audience. The DVD format is ideal for making bonus materials of such footage—a 10-15 minute interview with Chapman in addition to the concert experience would have been terrific. It's disappointing that most record labels don't recognize the flexibility of the technology, settling on throwing everything together as if they were making a VHS video.
Compound that with the flawed packaging. The song selection on the back is unreliable, as it doesn't match the actual chapters of the DVD. And the box indicates an approximate program length of 108 minutes when there's only 78 minutes of concert footage. The other 30 minutes seem to refer to the aforementioned bonus features, which are just retreads of things already seen from viewing the concert. What's included on