The Weekend Australian - Review - - Tv - MICHAEL BODEY

THE doc­u­men­tary is be­com­ing a real lit­tle sleeper within the broader DVD mar­ket. To my view­ing, at least, there are more dis­cov­er­ies among re­cent DVD doco re­leases than in other cat­e­gories.

Ev­ery fea­ture film feels as if it has al­ready been hyped, chas­tised or dis­missed be­fore reach­ing the DVD mar­ket. Or maybe it’s just me. One new doc­u­men­tary is an un­wit­ting les­son in how hype hurts. Not the DVD it­self but its sub­ject. Inside the All Blacks was cer­tainly much eas­ier to watch this week af­ter last week’s sur­prise Wal­la­bies vic­tory, but af­ter watch­ing this French doc­u­men­tary about the al­most all- con­quer­ing New Zealand rugby union side, I al­most feel sorry for them.

It is an ex­tra­or­di­nary piece of film­mak­ing, or at least scriptwrit­ing, that even the All Blacks may be em­bar­rassed by. It be­gins at a high pitch and doesn’t re­lent, not­ing early that: ‘‘ In a coun­try where rugby is far more than just a sport [ the All Blacks] are charged with a mis­sion of al­most mys­ti­cal pro­por­tions.’’

Or they may be just a bunch of burly blokes try­ing to push a piece of syn­thetic rub­ber around an oval.

The me­dia is on to the bur­den of ex­pec­ta­tions the New Zealan­ders face be­fore the World Cup, yet they could hardly outdo this doco. In an oth­er­wise faith­ful and well­con­structed piece, the nar­ra­tion leaps tall build­ings in a sin­gle bound, laud­ing the All Blacks as su­per­men. Not only must they win the World Cup, there is ‘‘ the im­mense duty of main­tain­ing the [ All Black] myth at its peak and con­firm­ing New Zealand’s place as the great­est rugby union na­tion of the world’’.

Most of the present team are in­ter­viewed and filmed in train­ing and in civic life: Leon McDon­ald, Daniel Carter, An­ton Oliver, Mils Mu­li­aina, Aaron Mauger and coach Gra­ham Henry.

And they give solid in­ter­views, talk­ing of ex­pec­ta­tions and the legacy of the for­mer All Blacks, the ‘‘ true aris­toc­racy of the New Zealand na­tion’’. Some of them also fea­ture, in­clud­ing Jonah Lomu, Tane Nor­ton, Gra­ham Mourie, Gary Whet­ton, Colin Meads and 1960s leg­end Brian Lo­chore, who is in­tro­duced, with­out irony, ‘‘ in his nat­u­ral el­e­ment, sur­rounded by sheep on his farm’’.

Sub­con­sciously, Inside the All Blacks says more about the bur­den on the team than about the team it­self. It is a missed op­por­tu­nity. In­stead, we’re left with flowery nar­ra­tion such as this: ‘‘ A rugby pass is per­haps the finest sport­ing move­ment ever in­vented by man and surely the most loaded with mean­ing, pass­ing to a mate so the col­lec­tive move­ment can last and the dream never stops.’’ I think that means they like to throw it around a bit be­cause it’s fun.

The doco has it all around the wrong way. The real star is the spe­cial fea­ture, Fac­ing the All Blacks , in which past and for­mer play­ers tell of the joys or oth­er­wise of play­ing the New Zealan­ders. Welsh flanker Mar­tyn Wil­liams sums it up: ‘‘ It’s the bench­mark for you to see how good a player you are.’’ All the for­mer French play­ers look as though they’ve just stepped from a Jac­ques Rivette film, ex­cept for Serge Blanco, who looks as though he’s just stepped from a cafe he may run in Nice. And I had to laugh at Paul Grayson’s rec­ol­lec­tion of his first match, where he faced Lomu’s haka. In true Bri­tish un­der­state­ment, he ad­mits it was ‘‘ quite in­tim­i­dat­ing’’. The Ten net­work could do worse than buy th­ese in­ter­views and chop them up for their World Cup cov­er­age.

* * * DISC WATCH: Bul­litt ( Warner Bros, M, $ 29.99)). What bet­ter way to test your new Blu- ray or HD- DVD ca­pa­bil­i­ties than with this, ar­guably the great­est car chase film? And Steve McQueen’s blue eyes should come up nicely, too. bodeym@ theaus­tralian. com. au

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