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Faces of America (2010)

Henry Louis Gates Jr. , John Maggio , Leslie Asako Gladsjo  |  NR |  DVD
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Henry Louis Gates Jr.
  • Directors: John Maggio, Leslie Asako Gladsjo, Sue Williams, Stephen Ives, Amanda Pollak
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Closed-captioned, 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
  • DVD Release Date: April 13, 2010
  • Run Time: 240 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0033XUH9A
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #82,774 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Special Features

None.

Editorial Reviews

What made America? What makes us? These two questions are at the heart of the new PBS series FACES OF AMERICA. Building on the success of his series AFRICAN AMERICAN LIVES (called by The New York Times the most exciting and stirring documentary on any subject to appear on television in a long time ) and AFRICAN AMERICAN LIVES 2, Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr. turns again to the latest tools of genealogy and genetics to explore the family histories of 11 renowned Americans. Looking to the wider immigrant experience, Professor Gates unravels the American tapestry, following the threads of his guests lives back to their origins around the globe. Along the way, the many stories he uncovers of displacement and homecoming, of material success and dispossession, of assimilation and discrimination illuminate the American experience. Professor Gates guests include poet Elizabeth Alexander, who composed and read the poem at President Barack Obama s inauguration, chef Mario Batali, comedian Stephen Colbert, novelist Louise Erdrich, writer Malcolm Gladwell, cellist Yo-Yo Ma, film director Mike Nichols, Her Royal Highness Queen Noor, actress Eva Longoria, actress Meryl Streep and figure skater Kristi Yamaguchi.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
This four-part, four-hour series aired on PBS earlier this year. Co-executive produced and superbly by Henry Louis Gates Jr. - the Harvard professor who is one of the leading historians on African American culture and history - this show will keep you engaged from beginning to end. No, it's not a history of African Americans - though one of the 12 "well known" persons (I hate to call them celebrities) is back (poet Elizabeth Alexander).

What Gates and his team (note there is no "Director" listed on the main credits) did was find 12 folks you've probably heard of and traced their lineage back at least 4 generations - in some cases as far back as 15 generations. (One of them is a distant cousin of Charlemagne! I won't tell you which one though.) The diverse group includes skater Kristi Yamaguchi, chef Mario Batalli, comedian Stephen Colbert (you learn how his name pronounced), cellist Yo-Yo Ma (you'll learn where his name Yo-Yo came from), Director Mike Nichols, Desperate Housewives star Eva Longoria (a true Tex-Mex woman as you'll see), actress Meryl Streep and even a real Queen (Queen Noor of Jordan!).

The stories are not told linearly and Gates - who not only meets with the subjects in their own home or workplace, but also travels the world - jumps back and forth. Batalli and Nichols show up in Episode One but don't come back until Episode Four. Streep seems to be in every one, as does Colbert. For much of the fourth episode the discussion turns to genealogy through DNA testing. Fascinating, but a bit more complicated than the physical research covered until that point.

Each of the subjects gets a unique surprise finding and I'll not spoil the fun for you by revealing any of them here. I found the Ma family history and Mike Nichols to be the most surprising.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hello cousin May 2, 2010
Henry Louis Gates Jr. selects a collection of various well-known Americans of apparently different ethnocentric origins. He researches their ancestry and deoxyribonucleic acid to find out things about the background of each person and then presents the finding to them and us.

The presentation is in four one-hour parts. Each part has the same subjects. They are just taken back further in history or a different facet of their lives. The presentation style is in sound bite form where Henry goes round robin form one person to the next and back again. This does not necessary follow any logical pattern.

However, we find this fascinating and makes one speculate about one's own origins. There are more in-depth presentations and more detailed in how they go about it. Nevertheless, this program stands well on its own.

"Who Do You Think You Are?" (2010 TV series documentary) U.S. version of the BBC series

Who Do You Think You Are? - Series 1-4 - 12-DVD Box Set ( Who Do You Think You Are? - Series One, Two, Three & Four ) ( Who Do You Think You Are?: Series 1 - 4 & How To Trace Your [ NON-USA FORMAT, PAL, Reg.2 Import - United Kingdom ]
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful and moving -- June 17, 2011
Verified Purchase
I have a favorite story here -- that of Yo-Yo Ma -- but it doesn't stop there. Kristi Yamaguchi's story is also deeply moving.

And when it is revealed to Latina Tex-Mex actress Longoria that she and Yo-Yo Ma share an ancestor, she leans forward and asks about Yo-Yo Ma --

"He's Mexican!?"

Warm, and rich, it will stretch your imagination and understanding of the actual history of the US, and the complexities of the US's fabric. At the same time, this series shows that we are all more alike than different. Kudos to Professor Gates for his wonderful generosity (see his gift to Yo-Yo Ma!), which is given not only to the celebrities upon whom he focuses but to all of us.

Don't miss this!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Series!!! June 2, 2014
Verified Purchase
I first viewed this series on PBS not too long ago. Dr. Gates does a wonderful job when conducting genealogical research of his guest. I was just as surprised and fascinated as they were about their ancestry. Hopefully Dr. Gates will continue this series with not only well known people, but us regular folks. Excellent series.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must see! December 6, 2013
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I have enjoyed this series immensely. I have found it both entertaining and educational and would highly recommend it. It is a great insight into the history of America and where we have come from.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating. May 15, 2010
Verified Purchase
Professor Gates has explored the geneology of current stars and presented them and us with their forebearers and their forebearers' histories. Kristi Yamaguchi learned of how heroic her forebearers were. We are lucky to share in her story. Professor Gates has just the right tone. I found this program fascinating.
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I had seen it on Public Television & wanted a copy of my own. I loved the fasinating stories of all the people finding out their roots,the history of their ancestors. It is wonderful what science has done to be able to trace our history through the blood & saliva tests. This series had brought so much information to us about ourselves & our long extended families.

The only problem I had with it was that it is little choppy going back and forth with the different people. Even with that I absolutely loved it and thus it gets a 5 Star ratin from me. Lousi Gates Jr. has though his different series brought all who view his programs a new & better understanding of ourselves
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars One Star
The set is for 3 discs--this item came with only disc 3.
Published 11 days ago by dawn higgins
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent! This kind of stuff could bring peace to ...
Excellent! This kind of stuff could bring peace to the whole wide world!
Published 1 month ago by angryatyou!!!
5.0 out of 5 stars Faces of America DVD
All went well with order. Wonderful DVD if you are interested in genealogy and DNA.
Published 1 month ago by L. McGoff
5.0 out of 5 stars GREAT
I LOVE THIS MOVIE, YOU LEARN SO MUCH FROM IT,GLAD IT WAS MADE, AND I LOVE THE STORIES ABOUT THE STARS
Published 11 months ago by mary hance
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating
We love this-very interesting. Highly recommended to everyone, young and old. You should get this today and enjoy it with family and friends.
Published 11 months ago by DB
5.0 out of 5 stars Wealth of information to search ones family history
I would recommend this DVD to anyone wanting to research their family line? A wealth of information to search ones family history
Published 17 months ago by Natalie Marie Estrada
5.0 out of 5 stars Many Surprises Here
Henry Louis Gates, Jr. searches the genealogy of twelve famous people and all are surprised by the ancestors they knew nothing about. Many of them had common ancestors. Read more
Published 20 months ago by Zarathustra
3.0 out of 5 stars All 12 people into 1 long episode in 4 different parts that is 4 hours...
They need to put the people they did history on into 12 separate episodes of each person. They have all 12 people into 1 long episode in 4 different parts that is 4 hours long... Read more
Published 23 months ago by Christina B
5.0 out of 5 stars Faces of America should be in every home
Faces of America is very interesting and educational. If you have children, watch it with them and see their eyes light up. Read more
Published on December 27, 2011 by Corney
1.0 out of 5 stars Bad disc
I have seen this program on PBS. I purchased it for the library which I run. Unfortunately, prepared it for the shelf without looking at it first. Read more
Published on October 5, 2011 by Island librarian
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