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DVD Review: Hog Heaven: The Story Of The Harley-Davidson Empire

2
December
2010
  Posted at 12:30:00 PM
  File under  Movie Review Product Review
  Author: Mike Werner
  Location: Normandy, France

Hog Heaven The Story of the Harley Davidson Empire Cover
Score:
Plot: 4
Acting: 4
Visual: 3
Sound: 4
Nudity: None
Gore: None
The 2003 DVD documentary "Hog Heaven: The Story Of The Harley-Davidson Empire" actually is two different documentaries. The first one is the story of Harley, the second is entitled "Modern Marvels". Both are released by The History Channel Open link in a new window, so you already know that it's going to be a good quality documentary.

The 45 minute long documentary about the Harley-Davidson empire is very interesting, telling you how Harley got started, the development and evolution of their motorcycles, the H-D racing world from the beginning, where the term HOG came from, the genius of Harley marketing. It also highlights the creation of motorcycle gangs like the Hells Angels (and their history), and the merger & de-merger with AMF (the makers of bowling balls).

It's interesting to see that already in 1920 Harley-Davidson started with merchandising, something they have become masters in. The feature also highlights the competitive fight it had with the likes of BMW (the growth of BMW, and their competition with Harley, specially during WWII), but also with the likes of Triumph, Norton and Honda.

Time is also spent on the H-D boxer engine, the XA (link Open link in a new window). Time is spent on the outlaw/rebel image of Harley riders, but also on the other side of the coin, the law enforcement's use of their motorcycles.

Celebs
: Burt Reynolds, Peter Fonda, Jay Leno, Clark Cable, Tyrone Power, Elvis Presley, Willie G. Davidson, Senator Ben Knighthorse Campell, Donna Dierrico,

Quotes
: "Harley-Davidson, one of the world's dream machines"   "This explains why the motorcycle riders became frequent medical corp customers"   "More than a machine"   "It's sexual"   "The comeback kid"  

Plot
: Think Harley-Davidson: the unmistakable rumble of the V-Twin engine, the chrome, the long-standing image of the company and its customers. Though the Japanese have surpassed Harley-Davidson in about every aspect of motorcycle technology, the Milwaukee machines have something that other bikes can never have: mystique. Hog Heaven: The Story of the Harley-Davidson Empire traces the marque from its l903 beginnings (a primitive moped with no clutch or transmission that had the power going to the back wheel via a dangerous-looking exposed leather belt) to its success as part of mechanized warfare in WWII to the disastrous buy-out by AMF, a company better known for its bowling balls and golf carts. Toward the end of the AMF period, Harley-Davidson was barely afloat and turning out inferior-quality products; when the parent company went looking for buyers, the employees banded together and took the nameplate back. The company's comeback is one of the great success stories of American business, and in the year 2000 the corporation can't fill orders fast enough to meet demand. Its modern image has grown from the days when only outlaws rode the machines; today they're popular with accountants, attorneys, celebrities, doctors, and all those who can afford them and have a love of the open road.

Hog Heaven The Story Of The Harley Davidson Empire scene

Modern Marvels
is a bonus feature, 1 hour 30 minutes worth, about modern motorcycles, Bikes covered are Harley-Davidson, Ducati, Suzuki, Bimota, Vincent, MTT, Boss Hoss, Roadogs, Indian, Curtiss, Excelsior, history of Vespa, history of Honda, Norton, BSA, Yamaha, Britten and Buell

This documentary has some nice and interesting views. There's an interesting part that covers Jay Leno's turbine motorcycle, the MT Y2K. Time is also spent at the Guggenheim museum, and a general overview of the history of motorcycles, with a lot on the Indian brand.

They compare horse and motorcycle saddles, and the difference in European motorcycles and USA ones. Time is also spent with the Boozefighters motorcycle club (including the notorious Hollister incident - link Open link in a new window), and the first president of the club is interviewed. The Hells Angels appear in this feature as well, and the way they brought the chopper to the public.

There's further an interesting explanation of the bobbers and cafe racers, and how they got created. You can also see one of the first videos of a race between a motorcycle (a Triumph) and a car, to see which is faster, something that today is still being done.

You get to see famous biker landmarks like ACE Cafe in London, and the evolution of street motorcycles into motocross into supercross into freestyle. They eventually evolve the motorcycle into that other famous two wheeler, the Segway.

Celebs
: Jesse James, Mike Metzger, Jeremy McGrath, Erik Buell, Jay Leno, Laurence Fishburne, Jeremy Irons

Quotes
: "Indian riders can read, Harley riders are the scum of the earth" "It's like explaining sex to an alien"   "Scooters are fashion, not passion"  "You can't jump a sportsbike"  "Schooled on Hondas, graduated to Harleys"

Hog Heaven The Story Of The Harley Davidson Empire scene

Verdict
: Even if you're not into Harleys, this is a very interesting document. You can learn something from documentary, the evolution of motorcycles to where it is today. Very interesting. That is worth the money on its own. The bonus of Modern Marvels really makes this DVD interesting. No matter how much you know about the motorcycle world, you'll learn something from this DVD.

I highly recommend this DVD!

Click here for many more photos of Hog Heaven: The Story Of The Harley-Davidson Empire Open link in a new window

Amazon US (hover over link below for price)Amazon UK
DVDDVD [Region 1]


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