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TEDDY ROOSEVELT: AN AMERICAN LION

Review by Chastity Campbell

Stars: Theodore Roosevelt
Director: David DeVries
Audio: Dolby Digital Stereo
Video: 1.33:1 Standard Fullscreen Color/Black & White
Studio: A&E
Features: See Review
Length: 200 Minutes
Release Date: March 25, 2003

“When they call the roll in the Senate, the Senators do not know whether to answer 'Present’ or 'Not guilty!'”  - Theodore Roosevelt

Film ***

With a domineering spirit and an unwavering faith in his abilities, Theodore Roosevelt would go down in history as one of the most celebrated and influential Presidents American history has ever known.  Now, through A&E’s double disc presentation of Theodore Roosevelt An American Lion, you can watch the life of the 26th President unfold right before your eyes.

Through the use of black and white still photographs as well as some of the first video footage ever shot, A&E has yet again given us a beautiful and brilliant look into the life of one of history’s brightest stars.   The still photographs used were of a very high quality.   The care with which these photographs have been handled over the years has not allowed them to loose a single ounce of detail.  

The black and white video footage, while silent, gives you the ability to watch Mr. Roosevelt interacting with people, family, and friends.   I personally feel you can learn a lot from just watching someone’s actions, and through the use of this footage you get a glimpse of the passion with which he delivered his speeches.  It was his abilities as a public speaker that helped to carry him so far.  Visibly obvious in the footage was the determination behind each and every spoken word that earned him the nickname Lion! 

Richard Dreyfuss lends his vocal talents to this biography, and packs one heck of a punch as the voice of Teddy himself.  The conviction with which Richard delivers his lines during political speeches and rallies helps add that third dimensional feel to this biography. 

Rounding out this wonderful two disc DVD set is a collage of various historians, scholars, and Roosevelt family members.  These individuals, help to fill in the gaps that even modern technology cannot compensate for.   Scholar Edmund Morris (author of Theodore Rex) gives us insight into the various career choices Teddy made over the years.  From cleaning up the streets as New York Cities Police Commissioner to his stint as the Assistant Secretary of the Navy, Mr. Roosevelt never stopped pushing forward on his journey through American History. 

I think the biggest thing this Biography brings forward about this man is how human he truly was, and how far ahead of the times he was.  I truly believe Theodore Roosevelt was light years ahead of his fellow delegates in terms of policy, procedure, and determination.  The conviction with which he attacked each and every task is a wonderful example that modern day leaders could learn a lesson or two from.

A&E delivers a beautifully packaged and very educational look at the life and times of Theodore Roosevelt.  While it does run a tad bit long at 3 hours and a half, it is time well spent when considering the wealth of information you will walk away with.  Definitely take the time to watch these DVDs; I guarantee it will be time well spent! 

Video ***

How do you rate the video quality of a DVD that uses black and white still photographs from the late 1800s and video footage from some of the first cameras every built?   Easy -  you grade it on a curve!  

Presented in a 1.33:1 standard fullscreen format, this DVD was a brilliant mix of old and new.   The black and white photographs were filled with detail that was brought vividly forward by their transfer to the digital world.  The video footage, while very grainy and dirty, was still in my eyes a completely amazing and beautiful experience considering the time period in which it was shot.   The re-enactments with modern actors were visually superb.  The use of shadow and light during the re-enactments was wonderful.  Just the right balance of each to give the illusion that Theodore Roosevelt himself took part in the making of this DVD. 

I think everyone out there will be able to appreciate the quality and work that went into the video presentation of these discs.

Audio **

While I was thoroughly impressed with the video quality of these DVDs the audio quality was a little disappointing.  

This two-disc set was presented in a Dolby Digital Stereo mix.  I wish the mix had been more balanced and stable but the truth was it fluctuated quite a bit near the beginning of disc one.   The problem seemed to be corrected toward the end of disc one and throughout disc two, but it was annoying while it was happening.

I did notice that throughout both DVDs the words of Mr. Roosevelt read aloud by Richard Dreyfuss tended to be quite loud.  This could have been on purpose or by accident, but in conjunction with the fluctuations in the beginning of disc one, it lent to my annoyance with the audio as a whole.

Features **

This double disc set contained a nice set of features, A&E style.  

A Theodore Roosevelt Background and Interesting Facts file can be found in the features menu of disc one.  It’s an interesting written account of little known facts about the 26th President of the United States.   Add to that a look at the Teddy Roosevelt Family tree, and the biography and filmography of Richard Dreyfuss, and disc one is nice indeed. 

Disc two’s features contain another biographical look at Theodore Roosevelt in Roughrider To Rushmore, one of A&E’s Award-Winning series Biographies.  

Interactive Menus, and Scene Selection bring to a close this set’s DVD features. 

Summary:

Far and away the best prize that life offers is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.  These words spoken by Mr. Roosevelt himself in 1903 are a testament to his way of handling life and everything it can throw at you.   These DVDs will make a wonderful addition to anyone’s collection.  Don’t let history stay in the past…bring it alive on DVD today!