Plot: What’s it about?
As the Germans stormed into their towns, the Jews sometimes mounted defensive efforts, but none as widescale as one in Warsaw, Poland. As the Polish Jews stood little chance against the Nazi forces if they remained separate, a group called the Jewish Fighters Organization was created. This organization would help bring the Jews together and with their combined presence, the odds would be a little less imposing, though still very much against them. This group is led by Mordechai (Hank Azaria) and in order to mount a worthwhile stand against the Germans, they have to engage in all kinds of operations. This includes smuggling in arms, ammunition, and other supplies, sending out spies to gather information, and a constant effort to gain the support of new members. They can’t seem to gain the support of Jewish Consulate Adam (Donald Sutherland), but as time passes and the Nazis continue their sadistic ways, new recruits increase and the level of trust rises to atmospheric heights within the organization. But with more and more forces coming in to battle them, how long can this band of rebels hold off the Germans?
Although network television miniseries often end up being a cut below, Uprising marks one of the exceptions when true excellence is achieved. But then again, this is not the usual television miniseries, with a dynamic cast, skilled director, and some interesting source material, so Uprising had an edge from the start. As this is based on real life events, Uprising has a lot of powerful moments and a lasting impact. Even so, you need some great workers to make it come across as such, but Uprising has talent in spades. Leelee Sobieski (Eyes Wide Shut, The Glass House) leads an impressive cast, which also includes David Schwimmer (Tv’s Friends), Hank Azaria (Mystery Men), Jon Voight (Anaconda), and Donald Sutherland (Space Cowboys). The performances are on the money all around, but Sobieski proves to be the real star here and this should elevate her career to even higher plateaus. This is easily one of the best miniseries I’ve ever seen and rivals many World War II themed feature films, without a doubt. And as Warner has issued a fine two disc set, I see no reason not to give Uprising a very high recommendation.
Video: How does it look?
Uprising is presented in a 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. As expected from a miniseries released just six weeks after broadcast, the image is clean and sharp, with no real problems to discuss. The print shows no real blemishes to speak of, even the darkest of scenes look solid and on the mark. The colors have a grim, often understated appearance and that’s as intended, while flesh tones seem natural at all times. No issues with contrast either, as black levels are smooth and refined, without fail. All in all, a superb visual presentation in all respects and one that should thrill fans to no end.
Audio: How does it sound?
The included Dolby Digital 5.1 track offers a terrific experience also, with a lot of surround presence, both in terms of subtle & more powerful scenes. The feature has some sequences that really push the speakers to the brink, especially the more action driven attack scenes toward the close of the miniseries. The more reserved scenes also come through in fine form however, with clean dialogue and good overall presence, thanks to well balanced volume throughout. I didn’t expect such a rich, immersive audio option, but I was quite impressed here. This disc also includes subtitles in English, Spanish, and French.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This set also includes some nice supplements, including two featurettes that cover both sides of the events shown in Uprising. The first is titled Resistance and looks at the real events, via historical documents, interviews with survivors, and all sorts of other materials. This piece was well put together and is more than worth a look, since it shows more of what really happened and that enhances the impact of the miniseries. The other featurette is focused on how the miniseries was created, through behind the scenes clips and interviews with various cast & crew members. It is nice to hear the cast comment on their character, as well as listen to director Jon Avnet discuss his thoughts on the material & miniseries. Avnet also contributes an audio commentary track, in which he provides even more insight and is able to take more time with his words, so much more information can be obtained here. A second commentary session is also included, in which Leelee Sobieski, Hank Azaria, and other cast members are present, so the number oof speakers ensures little silence and plenty of stories. This disc also includes some interactive DVD-ROM content, two trailers, and a selection of talent files.