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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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3.9 out of 5 stars
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on 19 August 2012
This film will shock, sadden and move you. It has so many elements to it that i don't want to review it in great detail because I went in knowing very little and I think it consequently made it all the more powerful.
To call this story heartbreaking is one of cinemas greatest understatements. The tragedy of this story lends itself to documentary and I'm so glad it was recommended to me. I will carry the beauty and tragedy of this film with me, probably for ever. A definite for all documentary fans, an accessible film for first time documentary viewers and a must see for all human beings.
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on 4 July 2013
If you read the other reviews you will get a good understanding of the content of the documentary so I won't go into that here.

The documentary style is very choppy with, at times, unnecessary sensationalisation (think World's Wildest Police Videos). The story itself has enough impact. Apart from this I found it heartbreaking and emotionally intense, you really do see the best and worst of people. This is a MUST see.

The most important part:

This PAL version skips back a chapter every time a chapter ends. It means you have to constantly have your finger hovering over the next chapter button on your remote to move the DVD forward, you'll be stuck in a loop otherwise. It's a real shame as it ruins the viewing experience and takes away some of the impact. If your DVD player can play it, get the NTSC version.
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on 30 July 2013
[For the region 2 PAL version]

To confirm what other reviewers have observed: at the end of each chapter, the dvd resets to the start of the chapter, so you have to hit the 'next chapter' button every three minutes on your remote to progress through the disc.

There are also severe motion artefacts (of the wavy zig-zag variety - it probably has a more technical name...) whenever *any* movement occurs (I thought at first it might be a quirk of the 'home video' portions of the film, but it occurs throughout, and comparing it with the version of the film available online shows it to be an issue unique to this release).

The film itself is well worth watching, but maybe try the US release:
Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father [DVD] [2008] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
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on 12 July 2013
Other reviewers have mentioned it, but I wanted to add weight to their testamony. The PAL version is so awful that noone in their right mind would have released this product. I own 1200 DVDs and have never seen such a bad release. Horrible! I would not keep this DVD if it was free.
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on 30 May 2013
This great film exists as NTSC and PAL DVD.
The PAL DVD is unwatchable, something in the transfer process went totally wrong.

The film is definitely worth watching, so make sure to get the NTSC version.
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on 23 February 2013
I watched Dear Zachary streamed online awhile ago, and it was one of the most heart tugging, tragic stories I've ever seen in documentary form. It's a tragic portrayal of a father, who seems like such a kind, decent, noble man by the name of Andrew Bagby, with interviews with all his friends and family (the director of the documentary was actually a good friend of Andrew Bagby, and made this in honour of his friend) who have nothing but the kindest words to say about him, who eventually marries a psychotic woman (Shirley Turner), who murdered him in cold blood, and showing how much the criminal justice system favours women, was set free not long after on probation (she even has a long history of mental illness), and given custody to her young baby Zachary (sounds insane I know, but is the kind of society that shows how much men are oppressed in the courts and face higher prison time, whereas women can literally get away with murder), and this documentary was actually going to be shown to Zachary as a reminder of who his father was, as a letter to 'his son about his murderer'.

But then, well, things take a turn for the worst, and I don't wish to contain spoilers, but what happens is enough to make you weep and go mad that such a thing could ever happen out of sheer carelessness. How many feminists refuse to acknowledge the fact that there are many violent, psychotic women in our society and still feel 'oppressed' with how much violence and murder goes on with being let off so lightly, quite simply baffles me.

HOWEVER.

After buying this, I played the DVD, and much to my disappointment, by the end of each chapter, it kept skipping back to the last one, making it nigh on impossible to view the documentary as a 'whole'. Thinking that it was perhaps a faulty disc, I contacted Amazon for a replacement, Amazon as always were great in offering me a replacement, and it appeared that it did the exact same thing. I tried playing the disc on two different players, as well as my PC, and it had the same glitch.

I really have no idea why this excellent, important, 5 star documentary has this glitch and why it hasn't been fixed, I own so many DVD's and Blu Rays and have never encountered this problem before. So the way the UK distributors have handled this is careless, to say the least. I'm not sure if the other reviewers on here have the UK release of the DVD and if there's a 'faulty batch', but I just bought it recently, I may just bite the bullet and try the US import release as it only sells for £5, but I do remain somewhat sceptical if it does. I'll have to research it and see if others have had the same problem, but as for this release it does contain a huge wealth of extras (about 8 highly interesting ones in total), but misses a few stars for the annoying chapter glitch as well as below par, unstable image quality.
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on 11 February 2011
I cannot believe I am the first write a review of this superb film. Don't spoil this gripping true story for yourself by reading too much. The filmmaker was a childhood friend of the victim and manages to expertly cover both the emotional and factual sides of the story. Make sure you're wide awake - the story unfolds at quite a rate, in fact its the definition of that 'emotional rollercoaster'. 5 stars.
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on 4 May 2009
This is the best documentary about a crime I have ever seen. It is told from a very personal point of view. The filmmaker has been best friends with the victim forever and has tons of film material which is edited beautifully. He contrasts this with surviving family and friends who tell their story/how they lived through the whole crime experience/loss. Amazing storytelling, I really recommend this piece. Also very tasteful coverdesign.
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on 12 May 2011
The subject matter could easily overwhelm you and leave you simply exhausted. It's a testament to the filmaker's skill and commitment to his subject that what he produced is clear, engrossing and moving. I should also add that this ia a fresh, innovative piece of work that uses the mechanics of documentary film making to convey often deeply visceral emotions in a way that makes them instant and real.
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on 24 February 2010
I saw this on BBC4 recently. It's a remarkable piece of film making that unfolds slowly and dramatically and at the end leaves you breathless. Highly recommended.
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