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American Experience: The Duel (2000)

Narrated by Linda Hunt , Russel Hunston , Carl Byker , Mitch Wilson  |  NR |  DVD
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Narrated by Linda Hunt, Russel Hunston, Rene Auberjonois, Alan Semok, Brian Dennehy
  • Directors: Carl Byker, Mitch Wilson
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: PBS (DIRECT)
  • DVD Release Date: June 28, 2011
  • Run Time: 60 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B004RV711Y
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #186,547 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

Duel of destiny. Alexander Hamilton was an impoverished immigrant from the West Indies. Aaron Burr was born into wealth and privilege in New England. Both rose to fame: one became a framer of the U.S. Constitution, the other a Revolutionary War veteran and financier who nearly came to be the nation's third president. In 1804 they faced each other in a duel that changed the course of history.

Customer Reviews

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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very Well Done October 26, 2012
I saw this on PBS and later on VHS when it first came out about 10 years ago. This PBS American Experience project is very well done. The producers did a great job of giving a balanced look at these two men without the typical vilifying of Burr that is so commonly the case.

Of particular interest are the reading of actual letters between these two men. You can see the tension mounting as each letter and its reply are read. You get the sense that neither man wanted this to end as it did, but each man's pride compelled him to follow this track to its ultimate end.

Highly recommended for history buffs, and even your casual viewer should find himself drawn in.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Hamilton and Burr November 15, 2011
This 60 minute DVD gives a good understanding of what brought about the duel between these two men. The backgrounds of Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr are both gone into, with an explanation of how this contributed to their personalities and behavior. They were both men of great intelligence and ambition.
Most of the video is shown in reenactments, with good photography and colour, giving a useful idea of the time period. Then we have the use of the `talking heads' - the historians that could have been shown for a minute of face time and then narrated their thoughts and facts behind the flowing reenactment scenes; but instead we are subjected to them popping in and out of the film to explain the history. This is a huge irritant in these historical films/DVDs.

There is a thorough recounting of the events leading up to the duel between the two men and of the attitude of the day towards duels and how they were carried out. The varying accounts of Hamilton's and Burr's seconds are given and the results of the duel on Burr's life afterward are well done.

This is a fine historical account, as long as you do not have too much of an aversion to the historical talking heads.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Duel February 10, 2014
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I am teaching a class on Aaron Burr and this CD is very well done. I have also met Joanne Freeman who narrates part of the video. It is a great and compelling story of two men whose lives are destroyed due to politics and jealousies that finally lead to the duel.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Mediocre, lacking in-depth investigation April 12, 2014
This video fails to mention the recent discovery that the dueling pistols (provided by Hamilton) had the secret advantage of a set trigger, which sheds great light both on the character of Hamilton and the version of what actually happened at the duel. Hamilton would have know of the set nature of the trigger, but not likely Burr, giving Hamilton the advantage. However a set trigger fires with a much lighter pressure and could account for Hamilton's reputed premature discharge.

Nor does this video mention the supposed real cause of Burr's anger: Hamilton had implied to others that Burr had slept with his daughter, Theodosia. When news of this reached Burr, he was enraged, and his deliberate, reasoned shot to kill Hamilton was the result.

This video is ok for a grade-school history class, perhaps. But is of no use to anyone genuinely interested in history.
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