VIDEOSCAN

MARIA CALLAS: HAMBURG CONCERT, 1959 (59 min., hi-fi monaural, Kultur) - Maria Callas left a large legacy of records, but video documents of her art are far rarer. This concert and the one below, along with her Paris recital debut and a second-act of ``Tosca'' from Covent Garden, offer the only extended samples of Callas before a live audience. Without question, the '59 recital is the one to own. Though the voice has already thinned out somewhat, and the wobble that would eventually erode all her high notes is all too clear, the essence of Callas's dramatic commitment in performance comes through. The interpretive range of her five arias is remarkable. -Thor Eckert Jr. MARIA CALLAS: HAMBURG CONCERT, 1962 (67 min., hi-fi monaural, Kultur) - The '62 concert finds Callas more self-conscious in terms of projecting glamour as well as self-assurance. The musical selections are far less rich. She has some memory lapses. It is not until the celebrated ``Ernani'' offering (in truncated form) that the old Callas magic emerges. But it is clear that by '62, the artist was still willing but the voice simply would no longer cooperate. -T.E.Jr. THE MARIA CALLAS CONCERTS - 1959, 1962 (Pioneer Artists LaserDisc, two discs, CV format) - The preferable format for both the '59 and '62 Hamburg concerts is the handsomely packaged LaserDisc. The image is particularly clear, the mono sound quite acceptable. And several overtures deleted on the Kultur tapes are included on LaserDisc. -T.E.Jr. THE COLOR PURPLE (1985, directed by Steven Spielberg, Warner Home Video) - Epic version of Alice Walker's novel about the trials and triumphs of a black Georgia woman. Spielberg's glossy style is the opposite of Walker's deliberately rough-hewn prose: He heightens and romanticizes almost every image in an effort to mythicize the story. The video screen reduces the scale of his vision, but the emotions hold up well, from the brutality of the opening scenes to the headlong sentimentality of the dozen or so finales. Whoopi Goldberg and Danny Glover head the fine cast. The movie has been video-transferred in the oblong ``letterbox'' format, which preserves its wide-screen proportions.

-David Sterritt KAMERADSCHAFT (1931, directed by G.W. Pabst, Embassy Home Entertainment) - When an explosion wreaks havoc in a French mine, German laborers rush across the border to rescue survivors, despite bitterness over France's earlier refusal to give them jobs. The film makes a moving argument for cooperation instead of nationalism, but an ironic ending recognizes the persistence of humanity's bad habits. Pabst is renowned for his editing prowess. He was also a master of camera movement, and his style has echoes in Stanley Kubrick's current work. ``Comradeship'' is the English-language title.

-D.S. THE LEARNING TREE (1969, directed by Gordon Parks, Warner Home Video) - A black teen-ager has close encounters with sex, racism, and other coming-of-age experiences in a small Kansas town during the '20s. The movie is unsophisticated, but it builds momentum when the hero faces a hard decision about testifying in a racially charged murder trial. Other portions are corny but usually good natured and always well meaning. Kyle Johnson is appealing as the young protagonist. -D.S.

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