Review by Mark Wiechman

Audio:  Dolby 2.0
Video:  Color full screen
Studio:  New Video
Features:  None
Length:  Eight hours, two minutes, five discs
Release Date:  April 26, 2005

"First in war, first in peace, first in the hearts of his countrymen." - Henry Lee on George Washington

Film **1/2

There has probably never been a more significant revolution than the American one - thirteen hardscrabble colonies that could barely get along united to defeat the largest and most powerful empire in history.  America was very lucky to have so many gifted men in its early history who would not just fight for freedom and risk their lives for the cause, but were also smart and daring enough to create a republic which put into practice so many democratic ideals.  While slavery and other problems went unresolved for many years, our founding fathers set the stage for the giant that would ensure freedom for more world citizens than any other.  While the communist revolutions of Russia and China may have affected more people in a shorter time, they are now resigned to the dust heap of history, while the world still turns to America for help in every time of need. 

I was somewhat disappointed with this set.  Three full discs are devoted to the war itself, but they do not contain much information beyond what we all learned in school.  This is definitely not a Ken Burns special.  There is no romantic atmosphere, no guest narrators, little sharing of the writing of the time, and much of the reenactment footage is amateurish to say the least.  Obviously these are pieces of other productions strung together.  It is good for a young audience, but nothing spectacular. 

The other discs are biographies of George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Benedict Arnold, and Paul Revere, which are fine, but are polite almost to a fault as are so many Biography specials.  With so many excellent biographies these days of the founding fathers, I would recommend them for anyone who has already had at least a rudimentary education on our history.

Video **1/2

A mixed bag of reenactment footage, pictures of the time, etc. strung together adequately.

Audio ***1/2

Entirely serviceable stereo, very clean and well balanced as we have come to expect from Biography and History Channel productions.

Features (zero stars)


Summary :

A nice set but not on par with Ken Burns specials, which like it or not has become the standard.  A good starting point but may disappoint anyone who has already passed American history.

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