- Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
- Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
- Resolution: 1080i/60 (29.970Hz)
- Audio Codec: English Dolby Digital 5.1, English LPCM 2.0 Stereo (48kHz/16-bit)
- Subtitles: English SDH
- Subtitles Color: Yellow
- Region: A (Region-Locked)
- Rating: Not Rated
- Discs: 1 (1 x Blu-ray)
- Digital Copies: N/A
- Run Time: 120 Mins.
- Studio: PBS
- Blu-ray Release Date: April 23, 2013
- List Price: $29.99
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(The below Blu-rayDefinition.com screen captures are taken directly from the Blu-ray Discs and losslessly compressed in the PNG format. There should be no loss of picture quality with this format. All screen captures should be regarded only as an approximation of the full capabilities of the Blu-ray format.
It was the crime that rocked New York City and the nation. In 1989, five black and Latino teenagers from Harlem were arrested and later convicted with raping a white woman in Central Park. The crime was blazed across newspaper headlines and dominated nightly news coverage. Everyone from the city’s current Mayor Ed Koch to Donald Trump weighed in. The group of teens were called everything from “thugs” to a “wolf pack” and their night of supposed terror as part of a larger group of twenty youths terrorizing everyone from joggers to homeless people was labelled with the bestial term “wilding.”
The case split a city already divided along racial, class, and religious lines again. When the teens all confessed to the crime and it went to trial, many in the city believed that to be the end of it and a test for a crumbling city’s judicial system. Others, especially the city’s black and Latino population weren’t convinced. The confessions were coerced they said. These kids, ranging in age from fourteen to sixteen, had been railroaded in a rush to justice to fit a timeline that police were trying to shoehorn onto a crime the teens couldn’t possibly have committed. It stirred up old feelings of the Jim Crow south, especially given the cross-racial aspects of the crime.
What the police missed, was the serial rapist Matias Reyes, who’d been raping and murdering women in New York City for a couple of years already and was still on the loose. They had his DNA, which was easily linked to the Central Park jogger case. Ironically, no DNA from the five youths charged and convicted could ever be linked to the rape, and their confessions all conflicted in details. They served six to thirteen years of their sentences – the full terms — before Reyes admitted to being the sole perpetrator of the crime and the verdicts were commuted.
With this documentary, Sarah Burns, Ken Burns, and David McMahon tell the story of this outrageous miscarriage of justice and the social upheaval it brought to the city and the nation in the words of the people it affected the most, the five youths Antron McCray (who appears off camera only), Kevin Richardson, Yusef Salaam, Raymond Santana, and Kharey Wise. Burns and company dispense with his usual style of narration and pans across archival photos, opting for the words from the people who lived it, actual broadcast footage and the infamous confessions tapes. These are more than enough to draw you into this powerful story.
The Central Park Five is taken from a variety of sources, mainly archival broadcast news footage of the day and the infamous taped confessions. None of these look very good at all, but the new interview segments of the so-called Central Park Five and others do offer a good amount of textural information and clean imagery.
A lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack is offered alongside a LPCM 2.0 stereo (48kHz/16-bit) soundtrack. The 5.1 does not offer much of an upgrade over the 2.0 for this material, providing only very subtle, low level atmospherics in its surround channels. The 2.0 is equally effective, with clean dialogue and a good sense of stereo imagery.
The Making Of with Ken Burns, his daughter and co-director Sarah Burns, and David McMahon offers an interesting perspective on how this film came together.
- Interviews with the Filmmakers (1.78:1; 1080i/60; 00:18:44):
- Making the Film
- A New York Wilding
- The Family Business
- Additional Feature
- After The Central Park Five (1.78:1; 1080i/60; 00:13:03) – Four of the Central Park Five discuss the film and their lives today.
The Definitive Word
The Central Park Five is a courageous and also a revealing look at the often complex and broken legal system in the United States. It exposes the bubbling racial tensions never too far from our society’s surface sadly, even today in 2013, and gives a rather raw look at one of the most notorious incidents in legal and societal history.
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