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THE CROSSING

Review by Chastity Campbell

Stars: Jeff Daniels, Roger Rees
Director: Robert Harmon
Audio: Dolby Digital Stereo
Video: Full Frame 1.33:1
Studio: A&E
Features: See Review
Length: 100 Minutes
Release Date: February 11, 2003

“My brave fellows, you have done all I asked…and more!”

Film ***

You walk into any video retailer and pick out a DVD that you want to take home and add to your collection.   You walk up to the counter and open your wallet to pay for it and pull out your hard earned dollar.  Now what does that have to do with this DVD review, you ask? Well, if you look at the picture on that dollar, and if you think about your freedom, or ability if you will, to go and purchase items that you want, the common thread should be obvious, George Washington!

The Crossing, presented brilliantly by A&E, gives you an in depth look at the crossing of the Delaware, by General George Washing on December 25th 1776.   This film was a very well done presentation of the battle of Trenton that won us our first victory towards freedom as a nation and allowed us to march forth heads high into the throng of battles yet to come.

Jeff Daniels (Dumb & Dumber & Gettysburg) plays the part of George Washington with a stoic nature much like that of the man himself.  He brought to the part a certain depth of character that some historians would say has been lacking in other portrayals of the first Commander in Chief!   Daniels was obviously willing to take the part of Washington on, but there was one thing that he wasn't prepared for when accepting the role.  It seems that our First President was a very accomplished horseman, and when Jeff was offered the role he had never ridden a horse before.  He immediately began riding lessons, but with only three weeks to prepare did he become good enough to make himself believable in the saddle?  You'll have to watch it to find out now, won't you!  

The Crossing chronicles the last few days leading up to the battle with a detachment of Hessian soldiers 1,100 strong.  The Hessians, sent to the Americas by King George III of England, were to (as historians put it) place a boot heel on the throats of his enemy.  The Hessians were German mercenaries known for their organization and tactical abilities on the battlefield.  In all King George (a.k.a. German George) called upon 16,000 Hessian troops to help the Red Coats take care of his problems in the colonies.  By the end of the war only 10,000 would make it back home. 

The battle scenes in this film were excellent in that they conveyed such realism you almost felt sorry for the Hessians as they were stormed by wave after wave of Continentals.  

What I loved about this film was the attention to detail.  So many little things were taken into consideration like the use of historical fabric for the uniforms and the muskets, which were created for the sole purpose of realism.   Director Robert Harmon did a great job of blocking the shots to get the most of each image and coordinating hundreds of extras for the battle scenes.  You can't go wrong with a winning cast and crew. 

In the end, George Washington walked away from the battle of Trenton without the loss of a single soldier.  None were killed, none were injured, but all had a new light in their eyes, for he had shown them where their futures lay.  

I have truly enjoyed each and every historical presentation A&E has had to offer.  This one however, has become my favorite, I do believe.  So rev up those ponies under the hood and don't forget to bring George along to the store so you can purchase The Crossing on DVD!

Video ***

The video presentation for this DVD was in a 1.33:1 Standard full frame format.  The image was clean and clear of dirt and grain.  The lighting of the indoor scenes tended to cause a slight amount of visible pixelation and softening around the edges which made some scenes look a bit fuzzy. 

The colors and natural lighting used really went a long way in creating a realistic setting that would probably rival the actual battle scene if placed side by side.  You really can tell that a lot of time and detail went into painting the perfect landscape on film to give it a realistic look and feel.

Audio ***

The audio on this DVD is a Dolby Digital Stereo mix that was quite nice.   The dialogue was crisp and clear with no dropouts or obvious dubbing errors.   The sound effects were balanced very well as were the music beds.  

The only thing I noted was that during one of the battle scenes the sound effects did become a little louder than the rest of the movie had been.  While it was a very minute flaw, it was noticeable, and therefore mentionable. 

Features **

The features for this DVD, while not the largest assortment I have ever seen, do a wonderful job in giving you insight into the making of this film. 

The Making of The Crossing featurette is a wonderful example of planning and detail.  You get to go behind the scenes with the director, producer and general staff to examine in what I consider graphic detail the blood, sweat, and sewing that went into making their dream a reality.  It's roughly twenty minutes long and packed from beginning to end with goodies every history buff is going to love.

Quotable quotes, anyone?   There is a feature on this disk that lists notable quotes from George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Payne and Patrick Henry.  Each quote is a stolen moment in time that allows us a glimpse back into the reality that was their fight for freedom!

The Biography and Filmography section contains information on Jeff Daniels and Roger Rees that shows you these guys have tackled just about every genre out there and continue to shine.

It wasn't the most loaded DVD I've ever seen, but what is included was done so well you won't mind at all!

Summary:

This DVD was a wonderful concept from beginning to end that gives life to things passed away from our sight and memory.  Take up the challenge of reliving some of our countries history by giving this DVD a spin.