Johnstown Flood

Johnstown Flood (2003)
BCI Home Entertainment
Cast: Richard Dreyfuss
Extras: Commentary Track, Featurette, Piano Illustration

On May 31 of 1889 the breaking of a dam caused a devastating flood in the town of Johnstown, Pennsylvania. 2209 people were killed, swept away by the wall of water, thousands were left homeless as their houses were smashed and washed down the river. It was the worst flood disaster ever to hit the United States.

Mark Bussler took on the task to write and direct this documentary about the disaster, which is now available on DVD from Inecom Entertainment. Entirely in black and white, the documentary uses original images from the disaster and combines it with reenactments of the events, all of it narrated by Richard Dreyfuss.

Presented in fullscreen on this DVD, the transfer is very clean and clear, although the vintage footage that is also included in the production does exhibit some minor defects. The image has a very good black fall-off, creating wide gradients that allow for a very well-defined black and white presentation. Blacks are deep and solid while whites are true highlights without blooming. No edge-enhancement and its distracting ringing artifacts are noticeable and the compression has also been handled very well.

The DVD also contains a commentary track featuring Richard Burkert, the Executive Director of the Johnston Area Heritage Association, in which he explores even further the historic background of the events. It is a very interesting, though also a bit scholarly, commentary track that adds a lot of additional depth to the release.

A 20-minute documentary featuring and interview with Burkert further explores the subject matter.

’The Johnstown Flood,’ a 7-minute piano piece is als oincluded on the DVD, exclusively performed for this release by Patricia Prattis Jennings.

’Johnstown Flood’ is a great, and emotional documentary on the subject matter that is absolutely required seeing for everyone interested in the history of this country. Well written and photographed, marvelously narrated, this film is coming to great life on this DVD release, so make sure to check it out.