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American Experience: Woodrow Wilson


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Product Details

  • Actors: Rene Auberjonois, Louis Auchincloss, John Morton Blum, Blair Brown, Victoria Bissell Brown
  • Directors: Mitch Wilson, Carl Byker
  • Producers: Carl Byker, Isaac Mizrahi, David Mrazek, Richard Kassebaum
  • Format: Color, NTSC
  • Language: English (Unknown)
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: PBS
  • DVD Release Date: August 27, 2002
  • Run Time: 180 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00008G72P
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #95,594 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "American Experience: Woodrow Wilson" on IMDb

Special Features

  • Mini documentaries on: race relations, women's suffrage, labor rights & more
  • Profiles of key figures in Wilson's life
  • Interviews with the filmmakers and scholars
  • Jacob Riis photo gallery
  • World War I poster art gallery
  • A scholar's forum on Wilson's legacy

Editorial Reviews

A gifted orator, Woodrow Wilson was supremely confident before crowds, yet uneasy in small groups. An intellectual with inflexible moral principles, he led America into World War I, threatening all that he cherished. This miniseries recalls the transformation of a history professor into one of America's greatest presidents, brought down by his stubborn search for peace and an incapacitating stroke. Narrated by Linda Hunt. Over 90 minutes of additional materials including featurettes on Civil Rights, Suffrage, and Third Party Politics

Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Heather L. Parisi on August 19, 2006
Format: DVD
IN A NUTSHELL: AMONG THE BEST 'AMERICAN EXPERIENCE' PBS HOME VIDEO RELEASES

SET CONTAINS 2 DVDs:

DISK 1]- 'A PASSIONATE MAN'

DISK 2]- 'THE REDEMPTION OF THE WORLD'

On both Disks an incredibly comprehensive and easily accessed set of features is included to enhance one's appreciation and comprehension of the presentation.

-*Mini documentaries on: race relations, women's suffrage, labor rights etc. were very helpful in understanding the times.

-* 'Video' Profiles of key figures in Wilson's life including antagonist 'Henry Cabot Lodge', allies 'Lloyd George' & 'Clemenceau', and Women's Suffrage Leaders and more.

-* Interviews with the filmmakers and scholars

-*Jacob Riis photo gallery

-*World War I poster art gallery

-*A scholar's forum on Wilson's legacy - basically this was a series of answers [by eight historians] to the question of why Woodrow Wilson is historically important?

BOTTOM LINE: EXCELLENT DOCUMENTARY BUT YOU MIGHT PREFER TO RENT OR BORROW IT

This is the kind of documentary that is not likely to be on your frequent viewing shelf, unless you are a motivated student of history. Therefore, since this DVD is both expensive to purchase and available in many public libraries, you may consider viewing a borrowed or rented copy before you buy it.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful By sceptical, not cynical on June 5, 2006
Format: DVD
This is a very worthy documentary on an unusually important President. I like the way in which Wilson the lecherous academic (an understudied type) is described as a man of passion towards women, and openly laughed when his visit to one woman was described as "we don't know how far he went with her - from what we know of him, probably very far". There is also a lot of stalking about by a man in glasses - or is this the actual Wilson (did they have colour movies in 1912)?

One interesting question temporarily raised in the movie concerned how an academic in his ivory tower could handle some of the most corrupt politicians in America. One answer not given is Wilson's own - that his own experience of academic politics made the New Jersey bosses appear to him as mere amateurs.

This film raises all sorts of historical questions in an interesting set of side-movies attached to the main documentary, though they are only brief (how come La Follette never gets a mention?) But you get the sense of a film made for schools. A turbulent period of American history passes before our eyes, but as in a school lesson disturbing questions are not raised.

Did Wilson's earlier political ideas play a role in his political activity? All you get is a brief comment that Wilson's early writings show his concern for a greater role for the State. So why wasn't he a Bull Moose progressive like Roosevelt? Having said that, the programme does bring out the political differences between Wilson and Roosevelt in 1912. Perhaps this indicates that Wilson's writings on The State were therefore more complex? You wouldn't find out here, any more than you would find out in a school textbook.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Kerry Walters VINE VOICE on October 23, 2008
Format: DVD
This 2-disk history of the life and times of Woodrow Wilson is well-intended but flawed. The producers and writers spend way too much time on Wilson's pre-presidential career and provide a swift account of his presidential terms that leave more questions unanswered than not. There's too much emphasis on Wilson as a "passionate man"--so much that sometimes the biofilm feels uncomfortably like a gossipy video celebrity column. A lot of time is spent on Wilson's health, certainly an important issue but not deserving as much attention as it gets.

What's the opportunity cost of all this? Three come immediately to mind. First, although we're told that Wilson was a "progressive" candidate for the governorship of new Jersey and, afterwards, the White House, we're not given any good idea of what it meant to be a "progressive." All that we're told is that progressives felt that there was an oligarchy oppressing the working class, Second--and this, I think, is the single biggest failing of the film--the film in no way tries to account for the gross discrepancy between Wilson's "progressivism" and his endorsement of what was arguably the worst assault on civil liberties in this country's history. How could a president who preached the almost transcendental value of democracy agree to the Espionage and Sedition Acts which imprisoned or exiled thousands of people? Third, the film mentions Wilson's 14 Points, but says nothing about what they were--except for the last one, calling for the establishment of a League of Nations. What a bizarre oversight!

The upshot is that we learn a lot from the film about Wilson's private life but next to nothing about his intellectual life or his public policy positions. Disappointing.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Good program...enjoyed it very much! I would recommend this to anyone who is a fan of 20th century or American history.
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By RICHARD CLARKE on November 3, 2014
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Excellent comprehensive documentary.
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