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  • American Experience: Robert E Lee
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American Experience: Robert E Lee


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American Experience: Robert E Lee + American Experience - Ulysses S. Grant, Warrior President + American Experience - Abraham and Mary Lincoln: A House Divided
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Product Details

  • Actors: Narrated by Michael Murphy
  • Directors: Michael Chin
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, Dolby, 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
  • DVD Release Date: January 25, 2011
  • Run Time: 60 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 2.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0047H7Q54
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #132,224 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Special Features

None.

Editorial Reviews

Nearly a century and a half after his death, Robert E. Lee, the leading Confederate general of the American Civil War, remains a source of fascination and, for some, veneration. This AMERICAN EXPERIENCE film examines the life and reputation of the general, whose military successes made him the scourge of the Union and the hero of the Confederacy, and who was elevated to almost god-like status by his admirers after his death.

Customer Reviews

“The Civil War was fought to free the slaves.” Nothing could be further from the truth!
Ivan Price Jr.
The makers of this historical documentary clearly set out to discredit the life of Robert E. Lee due to the fact that he sided with the South.
Mr. D
Nothing was mentioned of his refusal of financial gain or his constant calming effects on his former officers and troops.
Dan C Hedges

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 15 people found the following review helpful By H. Rieseck VINE VOICE on January 4, 2011
Growing up in New England I was taught about the Civil War from a pro-Unionist viewpoint. We looked at why the Civil War was fought, some of the big name battles, and the outcomes - but we never really looked at the people involved. I think that the people are left out of school lessons a lot of times, and these could be the things that teach you the most. This episode of American Experience really helped me to see who Robert E. Lee was and why he did many of the things that he did.

American Experience does a very good job of setting the tone and hooking the viewer right from the start, and this was no exception. I found it ironic that they opened with Robert E. Lee taking an oath at West Point to support and uphold the United States and the army. They carried this theme all the way to the wrap up of the episode where he is giving an oath after the surrender to support the Union and the United States. It really brought you full circle.

This episode's central focus was the man himself, the decisions he made, why he made them, and how they affected him, rather than an emphasis on battles. Several battles certainly were featured, but it was less about the minutiae of how they happened and more of how they affected Lee. Through this episode you really start to get a sense of how much of a struggle fighting this war was for Lee. He initially wanted to sit out the war because he was torn between his honor and his country and didn't want to destroy either.

Most of the episode's visuals were made up of portraits of Lee and co, drawings, maps and interviewing experts. Overlaid across these were many quotes by Lee that supported their points. There were also some great sound effects used for the war sections.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Scadhog on August 4, 2011
Another great film from "The American Experience", the best series of on PBS (and on all television, for that matter), "Robert E. Lee" tells the story of the great Civil War general from a decidedly personal point of view. Rather than concentrating on the battles and military exploits (although plenty of these are addressed), this documentary focuses on Lee's personal characteristics that made him the great military leader he was. In doing so it demystifies a legendary hero and shows us that he too was a man with the flaws and weaknesses common to all humans.

Like almost everything from "The American Experience", this is a terrific example of a documentary that makes learning about history accessible and enjoyable, and that helps us better understand what made the USA the country that it is.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Biblical Reader on June 12, 2013
I thought the video was much better than the comments of those who criticized it. Although I am not a Lee scholar I do not think that the video judged Lee unfairly. I think that everything that was said was historically true. I am sure they left a lot out of Lee's life and more details would have rendered a clearly, deeper picture of the general; but on the whole I think you get a good, accurate picture of who Lee was and what he believed. If anything I think the comments of others were bias.
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12 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Linda Pagliuco VINE VOICE on December 7, 2010
Robert E. Lee is arguably America's greatest military commander. Now American Experience takes a new look at his life and career, recognizing that truth while examining some of his inner drives and motives. What this biography demonstrates is, that like most great men, Lee is something of a conundrum, a bundle of contradictions. Educated at West Point, he made the army his career, taking a loyalty oath that he expected never to deny. Nevertheless, when the War Between the States erupted, it took him less than a day to reject the command of the army, and the country, that made him. Similarly, though he loved his wife, Mary Custis, and their seven children, Lee dedicated most of his time and energy to career rather than family. Even when defeat became incontrovertibly inevitable, Lee doggedly continued to fight, a choice that cost thousands of lives and prolonged the suffering of hundreds of thousands. Finally, following the surrender of the Confederacy, Lee publicly supported a peaceful re-union of the states, while privately unable to reconcile himself to the loss of the Great Cause, dying a bitter and despondent man a mere five years later.

Some time is also devoted to Lee the mythic hero. That the southern states, humiliated by defeat, aggrandized and romanticized Lee and the Lost Cause, is recounted, but the role that this idolatry played in hindering the nation's reunification is largely ignored.
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21 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Wes on February 1, 2011
I was inpired to write this review because I was dumbfounded at the number of overtly subjective, obviously propagandized reviews there were of this film. I have never written a review for Amazon, but because of the absurd analyses by so many who interpreted this film through such an uniformed lens, I couldn't refuse. It never ceases to amaze me how those who seek to mythologize the Old South refuse to approach history in an objective, rational way. Those who agree with consensus scholarship are labled "liberal" and "revisionists." What bafoonery! I personally know and studied under two of the main scholars featured in this film. Emory Thomas, for example, himself a southerner, is widely regarded as the foremost authority on Lee and the Old South. Leslie Gordon is also as knowledgable about the era as anyone. But because a couple people have an uninformed "opinion" or teach a little high school history, they think they know more than the true experts who have literally spent decades exploring their subject matter. These days, to be a true expert about the "facts" implies that you will be branded a heretic in the eyes of many if you call any of their pet assumptions into question. Far too many today prefer propaganda to the facts. This should really scare us all to death! As for the film, it was a triumph--typical excellence by PBS. They consulted the real experts in the field, and put together another documentary that will serve as a primer for years to come. Your decision to buy this film will ultimately come down to this: history vs. mythos. If you need to hear that Lee was semi-divine and virtually without flaw, then, by all means, buy the A & E crud. But if you really want to get to the bottom of the man and see him within his historical contexts, virtues, warts and all, and objective fact is your goal, then it is $15 well spent.
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