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Case Number 15920: Small Claims Court

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A Moment in History: The Inauguration of Barack Obama

MPI // 2009 // 150 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Kent Dixon (Retired) // March 14th, 2009

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All Rise...

Judge Kent Dixon says: "Hail to the Chief, indeed!"

The Charge

"A man whose father less than 60 years ago might not have been served at a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath."—Barack Obama

The Case

In one of the most astounding political campaigns in U.S. history, Barack Obama's road to the White House began on a cold day in February 2007 in Springfield, Illinois. Less than two years later, he was sworn in as the 44th president of the United States. Americans are cautious but hopeful that not only will President Obama be able to deliver on some of his promises, but that the nation will begin to see the early signs of economic recovery. As he said in his inauguration speech, the President acknowledges the road ahead may be long and the climb may be steep, but with the support of the American people, his administration will bring about change, strengthen the economy, bring troops back home and restore the nation…a weighty load to bear indeed.

Although no official crowd count is available, or would have likely even been possible, President Obama's inauguration event on January 20, 2009, is estimated to have drawn a crowd of as many as 1.8 million people to the nation's capital…an attendance record previous held by the 1965 inauguration of Lyndon B. Johnson that drew approximately 1.2 million. A full day of formal events and engagements, Inauguration Day 2009 was captured by numerous networks from around the world, and watched by an estimated 37.8 million viewers, not including those watching the various broadcasts through streaming online feeds. Fitting for an event focused on a president so familiar with electronic media and social networks, the inauguration resulted in a significant surge in Internet traffic and was watched or heard by countless millions in countries around the world.

The exhaustive ABC News coverage of the full Inauguration Day ceremony is included on A Moment in History, broken down into chapters as follows: "A New Day Begins," "Rev. Rick Warren Gives the Invocation," "Aretha Franklin's Inaugural Song," "Joe Biden sworn in as Vice President," "Performance of 'Air & Simple Gifts'," "Barack Obama sworn in as President," "Obama's Full Inauguration Speech," "Elizabeth Alexander Reads Inaugural Poem," "The Rev. Lowery Delivers the Benediction," "Bush's Helicopter Departure," "Walking the Parade Route," "The Parade," "Obama Speaks at the 'Neighborhood Ball'," "The First Dance With President Obama," and "Exclusive First Interview With Obama."

Not only does this release include full coverage of the formal inauguration ceremony, it also includes a fairly substantial offering of special features and additional material. Barbara Walters' exclusive interview with the Obamas captures both the president-elect's reflections on the tasks ahead and the importance of family and faith. Once his wife joins him for the second half of the interview, the strength of this team becomes immediately apparent and one can see how they balance each other perfectly for the tasks ahead.

"President-elect Obama's Victory Night Speech" captures yet another beautifully crafted speech, delivered by a man of sincerity to a warm and appreciative crowd. The "Oaths of Office" featurette delivers video from the inauguration ceremonies of the past nine presidents as they all took the oath for their own first, and in some cases second, terms of office. The "Exclusive Interview With Beyoncé" is nothing more than a minute or so of the pop star gushing about her opportunity to serenade the First Couple for their first dance at the Inaugural Ball. "Bob Woodruff With Michelle Obama" joins ABC journalist Bob Woodruff as he has a brief chat with Michelle Obama about her impressions of her new role as First Lady and her commitment to support and aid military families, as well as her own.

Captured from what seems to be a variety of sources, A Moment in History is a bit of a mixed bag on both the audio and video fronts. The audio mix remains grounded in the center and front channels, with nothing particularly remarkable about the overall mix, other than its relative clarity and lack of distortion. The visual presentation is where this release really seems to suffer, as the image ranges from sharp and colorful in the majority of the main program, to somewhat muted and soft in many of the supplementary features. Given the historic nature of the event and the guaranteed existence of HD footage, a Blu-ray release would have been both appropriate and welcome.

Unless you had your TiVo or PVR programmed to capture the day's events, you probably don't have your own personal record of the inauguration ceremony. If you're a history buff, or an Obamaphile like me, A Moment in History is an amazing record of what will hopefully become a turning point in American history.

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Scales of Justice

Judgment: 80

Perp Profile

Studio: MPI
Video Formats:
• Full Frame
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
• English
Running Time: 150 Minutes
Release Year: 2009
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
• Documentary
• Historical
• Television

Distinguishing Marks

• Featurettes
• Interviews


• Inauguration Guide

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