American Experience - Influenza 1918
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Update: Thinking about the impact this had on me, I'm not sure why I docked it a star...so now adjusted accordingly.
The movie does an excellent job of introducing the uninformed to the terrible experiences of families struck by the flu in 1918. It puts the virus in historical context and shares sad but fascinating interviews with those that lived through it. My students learned a great deal about this virus and the link between history and infectious disease. Viewing this video lead to many interesting discussions. My only complaint is that the editors, obviously pressed to fit everything in, left out the link between this virus and literature. One of the main characters in this video is Katherine Anne Porter. They share her experience with the virus and how she recovers only to find that the soldier boyfriend that helped her through it , has died of the flu. Very touching but they never mention that she went on to become one of the finest American short story writers. Porter won the Pulitzer prize for literature in 1966 for her collected works. One of her stories, titled Pale Horse, Pale Rider, tells a fictional but semi-autobiographical tale of characters in 1918 and their experience with the flu. The video quotes from this story but does not mention that Porter shared her experiences in this fine short story. My students enjoyed the show, learned a great deal and it lead to excellent discussions.
Overall, I liked this documentary because it takes you back to a time when doctors and scientists were new to viruses. Recommended.
I recall that Charlie Chaplin's sweetheart died in a flu epidemic in Britain, but I didn't know the problem started in the United States. (If our revolution and our stock market crash can have global effects, I guess I should not be surprised.) It's easy to think of the bubonic plague as the world's only human international die-off. However, this film shows that it happened in the recent past too. This shows that savage diseases can be spread widely, unlike the localization of Ebola or SARS. I learned that the Titanic's sinking humbled early 20th-century modernists, but this flu outbreak must have been the same way. Nowadays, incurable diseases are usually associated with stigmatized groups. In contrast, this work clearly points to American soldiers, a well-respected group, as the cause of the spread.
This work proved the problem was cross-regional. This is not example of something on the East Coast being equated with all of America. The epidemic hit Philadelphia, but San Francisco, Nebraska, and the Dakotas as well. This work starts with interviewees waxing nostalgic about the pre-flu period. I thought it was offensive to think of a Jim Crow time as wonderful. However, this work compensates by interviewing an African-American witness to the crisis and a person recalling how a Native American group was affected.
In "Memoirs of a Geisha," one character says, "The interesting thing about wars is that you never know who will survive and who will not.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Very Very good. Used it at work for my Flu Vaccine Campaign.Published 8 months ago by wanda mccullough
Great and timely information for any level from middle school to college or for homePublished 15 months ago by Amazon Customer
Excellent documentary on the flu pandemic of 1918; Sad but an excellent documentaryPublished 18 months ago by Oral Carter
Probably no other historical event occurred in the United States that been forgotten in time as the plague of influenza that struck first in the U.S. and then Europe in 1918. Read morePublished 18 months ago by Janet Chandler
As with most of the documentaries in this PBS series, it is very high quality. I understand that it's called "The American Experience," but still, it seemed really limited... Read morePublished 19 months ago by David S.