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Video Review

Seabiscuit: PBS American Experience
PBS Home Video
VHS or DVD, 60 minutes

With Laura Hillenbrand's biography of Seabiscuit topping the best-seller list and with the movie based on her book coming out in July, racing fans and the general public have gained a renewed interest in the grandson of Man O'War who thrilled the world in the 1930's. Whether you've read the book or not, PBS's program is a great lead-in to the movie, giving the viewer a first-hand look at Seabiscuit's career and the people surrounding him.

Directors Andrea Kalin and Jacqueline Shearer used still photography, newsreel footage, and interviews with Hillenbrand, a groom who was in attendance at the Pimlico match race, and Norah Christianson, the daughter of regular rider Red Pollard, to tell the story in a nicely paced, entertaining manner. The race clips are exciting to watch, and make you wish you were able to see the Biscuit live. It will be interesting to see how the movie version will compare with the actual footage. The hard luck of Pollard was an ongoing theme in the book, and this was put to use in this program as well. As Pollard said, "We have four good legs between the two of us" before their victory in the Santa Anita Handicap as both had suffered leg injuries while training up to the race. The DVD version includes extra features such as a photo gallery and an interview with producer Stephen Ives.

Kalin and Shearer, with help from Hillenbrand, compressed the excitement of the book into one convenient, compact show. Seabiscuit: PBS American Experience belongs on every racing fan's library. Not only is it an excellent biography of a great racehorse, it also serves as a reminder of racing's, and especially the underdog horse's, role during the Depression when the nation needed a hero to distract them from their hardships. Those who have read the book already might be drawn to reading it again after watching this program.

Seabiscuit: PBS American Experience has a list price of $14.95 VHS or $19.98 DVD and is available from Amazon.com $12.99 VHS or $14.99 DVD.

Rating:     5/5

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