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AFL St. Kilda - Heaven & Hell
Visual Entertainment Group/Visual Entertainment Group . R4 . COLOR . 142 mins . G . PAL


Die-hard St Kilda supporters, like most other supporters, are loathe to hear an unkind word about their beloved club, but most would concede that St Kilda, of all the AFL clubs still around, are the biggest underachievers who have promised much but delivered precious little. And boy, have they had a roller coaster ride along the way.

Right from the bounce-down I wish to state that, although I love AFL, I am not a loyal supporter of any team (although some teams irk me far more than others), so comments made should not be taken as favouritism or inflammatory - well not much anyway.

The St Kilda Football Club was one of the eight founding clubs of the VFL (Victorian Football League) in 1897, yet this DVD kicks off with the glamour days of the '60s, the "Jeans Era" (that's as in Alan, not denim) when St Kilda won their first, and only, premiership in 1966. That decade was arguably their best, being runners-up the year before, making their first finals appearance in countless years, and producing many champions. However, by the decade's end, they had slumped badly and entered the truly disastrous 1970s with little to look forward to.

The DVD then does a retrograde look at the club in the early days, with some great footage from the 1920s and 1930s, then through the war-torn 1940s, the middling '50s, a quick recap of the successful '60s, the best-forgotten '70s, the somewhat more successful yet largely unimpressive '80s, and the mini-revival of the '90s up to the 2003 season where there was again some real promise shown. Fans are no doubt already hanging out for season 2004.

The club's history is covered in great detail, often with honesty and openness. The in-fighting, the poor decisions, the wasted opportunities, factions and poor attitudes are all offered as reasons for the club's wavering fortunes. But it wasn't all bad, and the club boasts countless champions and personalities such as Alan Jeans, Ian Stewart, Carl Ditterich, Daryl Baldock, Mark Jackson, Robert Muir, Danny Frawley, Rex Hunt, Tony Lockett, Nicky Winmar, Nathan Buckley, Stuart Loewe, Robert Harvey, Nathan Burke and their latest golden boy, Nick Riewoldt.

There are many interviews with former and current greats who share their memories both good and bad. The club's supporters are not forgotten, nor the makers and shakers. There are numerous highs and lows for all clubs, but St Kilda has perhaps experienced more than most.

Their supporters, it could be argued, are about the most patient in the league. Any fan who is still there after their shocking '70s, with 45 wins from 225 games, deserves a decent DVD package, and this 140-minute effort will please them all. Be warned, though, that the bulk of the presentation comes from a previous 1997 release (the AFL/VFL's Centenary year), with a seamless adjunct that brings it up to date.


This full frame presentation is generally sound, but ranges from very old footage that is as rough as it gets (keep in mind that some of it is more than 80 years old), to up-to-the-minute pristine quality footage, so this is understandable. There is a mix of colour and black and white, but again each varies depending on the source and the age of the footage. There is a great deal recorded from television broadcasts, home movies and state-of-the-art camera equipment. The interview footage tends to be of better quality, and the very recent footage is extremely clear, sharp and accurately coloured. There is little else to add. With footage as varied in age, source and storage conditions as this, there is no reason to get excited or upset. It’s all here from the heavily artefacted to the clear and sharp, but ignore that and enjoy the history lesson.

Apart from a glitch or two, the Dolby Digital 2.0 is as good as can be expected, and again is influenced by such things as age and source, and limited to the recording equipment of the day. There is some hiss in the older footage, but most of this is loud, clear and very audible. There is a strange ‘shoom’ sound at the 83:15 mark and a total sound drop out for two seconds at 85:36, but aside from that, everything else performs as required. The archival footage has that glorious ‘60s television sound, but authenticity like that is hard to come by, so again, enjoy the show. The audio is perfectly serviceable.

The only extra is some club stats that is a few text screens with the barest of statistics provided. Topics are The Leadership at St Kilda, Games Records and Goals Record.

Fans need not hesitate. St Kilda - Heaven and Hell is a comprehensive and balanced look at a proud, but battling, AFL club. Supporters could ask for little more. It covers the entire history of the club up to the end of the present season, and should tide them over until the 2004 season.

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  •   And I quote...
    "Ah, St Kilda. A club with one of the longest histories in the AFL, and the club that has possibly promised the most and delivered the least..."
    - Terry Kemp
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