'Dust to Glory' DVD Review **** 092205

The Work = ****
'Dust to Glory' is a well made, exciting documentary that looks at a running of the Baja 1000. For those of you that don’t know the Baja 1000 is a pretty unique race. It starts in Mexico and runs in to the US. The race is, as the name implies 1,000 miles and must be completed in 32 hours. Every year the course changes and it runs on and off road and if one is racing on the roads they can get pulled over by the police.

Racers in the Baja 1000 look forward to no real prize other than completing the race and maybe getting a pin. This is one of the best features of the race and the documentary as those entering the race are doing so for personal reasons. The reward of completing the race is what these drivers are looking for. When vehicles break down or crash and the driver’s can’t complete the race the heartbreak is visible.

'Dust to Glory' is shot with an army of cameras, some in the air, some on the vehicles and drivers and some stationed at various locations. The result is a slick looking film that covers a wide range of the action. It manages to cover a little of the history of the Baja 1000 as well as brief bit of history on some of the drivers entering the race. There are different classes of vehicles allowed in the race and they compete against others in the same class. A few of the classes are buggies, trucks, motorcycles and VW Bugs. The entrance fee to the race is not too steep so people from all economic classes and backgrounds enter and compete against one another.

'Dust to Glory' was written and directed by Dana Brown who had just made the surfing film 'Step Into Liquid'. He has films like this in his blood, his father Bruce directed amongst other things 'The Endless Summer', 'On Any Sunday' and a documentary on the 'Baja 1000 for Wild World of Sports' (which I believe is getting a DVD release soon.) Dana picks a few drivers to follow through the race and their story helps to keep the films momentum going. Amongst the familiar faces that pop up, one is a stand out: Mario Andretti. The guy just oozes charm and although he doesn’t enter the race (he’s just there to send off the drivers) he does get to drive a truck off road at ridiculous speeds. It’s a hoot to see his passenger try and get him to slow down.

At the end of the day, 'Dust to Glory' is a fun, well made documentary that left me wanting more. I wanted more crazy race footage and I wanted to know more about the race and some of its past runs. Some of the closing moments of the film are not as effective as the opening and it is a shame that some of the drivers that are shown starting the race are not shown finishing it. Still, this is an all around great doc’ and hey it is better to leave you wanting more than wishing it had ended early.

DVD = ***

The Look
The DVD has solid and very nice looking 1.85:1 widescreen anamorphic transfer. The film looks very good and there is often a lot of detail onscreen with dust and dirt flying everywhere. Some of the footage doesn’t look quite as good as the rest of the film but I believe that has more to do with some of the cameras being mounted in awkward situations and getting banged around more than anything else.

The Sound
The DVD has a 5.1 Dolby track that sounds pretty good, especially with some of the vehicles roaring through the race. The dialogue was clear and easy to understand and was thankfully not transferred at too low a volume. There are also English and Spanish subtitles.

The Bonus
There are a handful of features on the DVD. First is a making of featurette that is on the short side but does go into detail about the production of 'Dust to Glory'. It is a nice feature that shows the effort that went into the making of the film. There are also some deleted sequences and a second set of sequences called “Amazing Moments Captured by the Crew” that shows some impressive footage caught on film (including a cameraman breaking his hand and continuing to film.) There is also a brief tribute to Bruce and the well put together trailer for 'Dust to Glory'.

All Together = ****
'Dust to Glory' is a great documentary that is about a race that draws people across many walks of life. It is engaging and fun and has a lot of impressive footage to boot. The DVD has a good transfer and some nice extras but they (a bit like the film) left me wanting more. Recommended.


'Dust to Glory' Links:


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