- Directors: Steve James, Fred Marx, Peter Gilbert
- Producers: Steve James, Peter Gilbert, Frederick Marx
- Format: VHS
- Language: English
- Classification: Exempt
- Studio: Vci
- VHS Release Date: 11 Mar. 2002
- Run Time: 171 minutes
- Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
- ASIN: B00004CQQW
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 212,177 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)
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Hoop Dreams [VHS]
Shot over five years, this Oscar-winning documentary follows the passage of two young men with dreams of making it big in the world of basketball. Arthur and William are two black teenagers from Chicago, who both hope to earn themselves a place in the NBA. Sports scholarships ensure that they attend prestigious colleges after leaving high school, but this step up the ladder brings them to a new level of training, with a demanding coach who drives them to the very limits of their abilities.
This completely absorbing three-hour documentary follows the lives of two inner-city African American teenage basketball prodigies as they move through high school with long-shot dreams of the NBA, superstardom and an escape from the ghetto. Taking cues from such works as Michael Apted's 35 Up, director Steve James and associates shot more than 250 hours of footage, spanning more than six years, and their completed work actually moves like an edge-of-the-seat drama, so brimming with tension, plot twists, successes and tragedies that its length--170 minutes--is never an issue. Yet, what makes the film more impressive is how James moves his scope beyond a competitive sports drama (although the movie has plenty of terrific, nail-biting basketball footage) and addresses complex social issues, creating a scathing social commentary about class privilege and racial division. The film opens by introducing William Gates and Arthur Agee, two Chicago hopefuls, as they are being courted and recruited by various high schools to play ball, and continues until the pair are college freshmen. James allows the audience the experience of not only watching their journeys and daily routines (it's a sobering portrait of inner-city life), but also witnessing their maturation. Each takes a separate path along the way, stumbling over several obstacles (William suffers injuries, Arthur fails to meet his coach's high expectations); but James takes particular care to stress the importance and strong commitment of each character's family along the way, giving the film a essential centre. The parents and siblings emerge with as much depth and complexity as the two main "characters", and turn Hoop Dreams into an unforgettable film experience. --Dave McCoy
Top Customer Reviews
It starts out in the 1980's following two 14 year old naturals from the projects of Chicago as they're headhunted by talent scouts, lured in by schools, their offers of subsidised education and the shot at living their dream of NBA stardom.
Initially the two were uninteresting and thin, but 15 minutes in, once they get to the school stages they realize that fulfilling their dreams is going to be a mountain to climb with pressure bearing down on them from all directions; Coaches with nothing positive to say, criticism from family members, unexpected hikes in tuition fees, parents losing their jobs, families breaking up, unexpected pregnancies. The beauty of the film is that it avoid your typical Documentary pitfalls of some generic talking head in a suit popping up for 30 seconds, prattling on about a subject, only being identified by title at the bottom of the screen before never being seen again. Once the film gets going, it becomes more than just the lives of 2 people, everyone of note gets fleshed out and becomes more watchable than most actors will be in their entire careers. No reconstructions, pretty much every moment of importance is captured on film minus an impregnation here and there.
Those put off by the 3 hour run time shouldn't be, it only gets deeper deeper with each passing minute so you're never left thinking 'eh, it's dying off a bit now'. Quite easily the best documentary I've ever witnessed and I've seen some good ones (Grizzly Man, Deliver Us From Evil, Koyaanisqatsi, 102 Minutes That Changed America, the overrated Man On Wire).
Simply put Hoop Dreams is #1.
It follows the stories of two young African American men (William Gates and Arthur Agee) and their families as they attempt to realise their dreams and escape the ghetto through basketball. The documentary follows the boys through four years of High School and on to college.
It is a moving, sometimes heartbreaking film that allows you to accompany the boys on their journey and on the way provides great insight into the wider issues. In many ways Hoop Dreams is a classical documentary - the filmmakers shot hours footage and then edited it down to the three hour film. There is very little editorial, they simply show us the edited highlights of what they recorded and allow the viewers to draw their own conclusions. This approach allows the filmmakers (and us) to examine not just high-school basketball but also the wider racial and social issues.
I am not sure that it is possible to spoil the plot of a documentary but if you want it to be a surprise, read no further....
The story beings with St Joseph's - an up market high school - recruiting both boys on partial scholarships. William is an instant success - even from the brief clips it is obvious he has an amazing talent for basketball - he makes the school first team as a freshman (very uncommon) and looks to have a professional career in front of him. Arthur is a different story. He has talent but he seems to lack the maturity to utilise it and he is kicked out of school at the end of his freshman year for unpaid school fees.Read more ›
It is one of the best films i have ever seen. It's a bit like 'Coach Carter' mixed with 'The pursuit of Happyness' but it's much better than both movies. It is a little long but well worth viewing on a saturday or sunday afternoon.
I would recommend this film to anyone but I think the message would be effective to teenage boys whether they play sports or not. It is a story of hope and making your dreams come true. These two boys went through so much in their lives but they never gave up on their dreams.
Both Arthur and William went through everything from injuries, personal family problems, financial troubles to the pressures of choosing the right university/college and they came out the other end stronger and more determined to make their dreams come true.
Arthur's story was heartbreaking at times. His family life changed dramatically several times in this movie. his father turned to drugs. Arthur got kicked out of High school because his family couldn't afford the school fees and his family were so poor at one point they couldnt afford to pay the light bill and they had to sit in dark. I cried for Arthur.
William seemed to have an easier journey to success although his journey was bumpy too.
I can't tell you how glad i am that i found this film in a charity shop for 99p, I would have paid more for it. I could watch it over and over again.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Hoop Dreams is a really good film about basketball and the young men as they strive for a career in sport. It's long but it never flags. Read morePublished 10 months ago by Dan Smith
This documentary remains one of the best ever despite the failure of Oscar voters to recognise it at the time. For people aspiring to work in documentaries this film is a must.Published 12 months ago by Annie
Not an Oscar-winning doc as the blurb describes it. This amazing film was not even nominated, which is one of the great scandals in recent Oscar history. Read morePublished 12 months ago by Colin M
An amazing story of hope and determination, someone has adequetly summed it up as "the pursuit of happyness" meets "Coach carter" but far better than both. Read morePublished 15 months ago by Jatinder
This is a brilliant and emotionally charged documentary but the DVD itself is hard to hear as it's original footage.Published 16 months ago by Sweet Glory
Amazing documentary!!! I came across this documentary on Netflix and searched online to buy it as soon as the documentary had finished. It's amazing! Very emotional and relatable. Read morePublished 17 months ago by Wints
This film is old, but i had never seen it before. I just love it, reminds me of the good old days. But it is about real people and real life and has two different stories with... Read morePublished on 16 Feb. 2013 by Mitsy32