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Rebels & Redcoats - How Britain Lost America

29 customer reviews

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(Jun 29, 2004)
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$14.89 $2.41

Editorial Reviews

Rebels & Redcoats or Liberty!? Much like the war itself, your preferred PBS American Revolution documentary may depend on which side of the pond you are on and what point of view you are used to hearing. While many consider Liberty! to be the definitive American Revolution documentary, it is no doubt told from a very colonial perspective. Rebels & Redcoats: How Britain Lost America on the other hand is clearly the perspective from Mother England; not a tale of freedom and independence, but one of loss. Rebels uses similar techniques as Liberty!, incorporating interviews with scholars, historical documents, and paintings to tell the tale of those involved; albeit from a more English perspective. But Rebels & Redcoats gains a slight lead, in production values anyway, because it includes battle and historical reenactments, an element sorely limited in Liberty!. Also worth noting, Rebels adds modern-day video footage of locations to emphasize comparisons of colony to modern America and often implants a narrator in modern dress smack dab in the middle of a historical reenactment. This does jar the continuity of the documentary a bit, but it's not entirely damaging. Rebels & Redcoats definitely tells the British side of the story and some views expressed are bound to be controversial, even dubious to American ears. But in all honesty, it is a good documentary that complements the exceptional Liberty! nicely. --Rob Bracco

From the Back Cover

The program explorers America's War of Independence and how it divided the nation between those loyal to the English crown and those fighting for liberation. Using interviews with scholars, large-scale reconstruction, first-person narratives, historical documents, and paintings, the program travels back to the passionate, violent and sometimes tragically funny events of the 1770's. The stories told reflect every group involved: Redcoats, loyalists, rebels, neutrals, French soldiers, Indian warriors, slaves and sharecroppers.

Special Features


Product Details

  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, Full Screen, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: PBS
  • DVD Release Date: June 29, 2004
  • Run Time: 200 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0001ZWLVA
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #155,851 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

43 of 45 people found the following review helpful By Redcoat on July 8, 2004
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I am a Revolutionary Reenactor. This film is a "British perspective" on why they lost. As such it often refers to the "American patriots" as "rebels." It brings forth a number of ironies regarding the Revolution such as the proslavery attitude of Southern patriots. It equally notes atrocities committed by both sides. But despite the fact this movie is focused on the mistakes of the British, it also offers praise to the ingenuity, perseverance, and motivation of the patriots.
Judging from some of the comments in the review section, there are a number of people who do not like the fact that this film is pretty balanced for a movie presenting the British perspective. The assertions that this film highlights American atrocities and ignores British atrocities is simply inaccurate. It portrays British brutality and American brutality on an equal basis. It shows not only how blacks fled to the British in large numbers, but also how many of them were betrayed by Cornwaillis in the end. This film is the perfect complement to most of the American documentaries filmed so far. If you want a fantasy film where the patriots are always the good guys, go watch "the Patriot." If you want to learn the good, the bad and the ugly about the American Revolution and have an expanded knowledge about it, see this film.
On the down side, the uniforms and equipment were a mixed bag. A crisp line of redcoats is sort of ruined when there is a guy with a goofy bicorn hat and long sideburns in the middle. There is a lot for reenactors to criticize in the recreated scenes. My advice is simple, resist criticizing the trees and enjoy the woods.
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39 of 47 people found the following review helpful By Dr J on August 22, 2004
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I have mixed feelings about this DVD on the American Revolution. On the positive side, the use of reenactors was good. Generally, PBS does uses reenactors much less than A&E (and its sister companies)and Discovery. This DVD was quite refreshing in that respect. I also very much enjoyed certain characters talking to the audience. I like this technique in historical documentaries. It cuts up the monotony of listening to a narrator and makes history come alive. Great job here. However, the battle scenes were small--only a handful of reenactors showed up on filming day, so we see the same few guys again and again. Also, the use of guys with beards seemed odd. Nevertheless, you work with what you have.

As far as the presentation goes, the narrator is the star of the show. He is on screen way too much. It's 'interesting and valuable to see how some of the old sites, e.g. Breed's/Bunker Hills, Old North Church, etc. look today, but I really don't care to see the narrator traveling around in his car, playing with his radio. I felt that the film crew just followed this guy around on his vacation with a camera. And I cared even less to see MODERN New Yorkers (I think they were) going about their business. At least show me some painting from the 18th century.

On to the content. This DVD is supposed to be from the British perspective. This is a welcome idea. I felt that it was very balanced, but too much so! I didn't get any sense of what the British, in 1776 or now, thought/think about the American Revolution (of course, there is the usual "loudest yelps of freedom from slavedrivers" quote, but so what? That really doesn't tell us much). I also didn't care for the narrator interviewing random people on a bus.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By L Gontzes on July 24, 2009
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Rebels and Redcoats: How Britain Lost America provides the British perspective vis-à-vis the American Revolution. Professor Richard Holmes does an excellent job of shedding light on little known aspects of the American War of Independence thus providing a more pragmatic, realistic, and in effect a more truthful account of events during the 1775-1783 conflict than what has been generally shown to-date. The documentary is divided into four parts dealing with as many aspects of and visiting as many geographic regions of the conflict as possible. Subsequently, the documentary provides valuable insight into a very important period of English (American and British) History.
Specifically: We get a taste of the different attitudes and mentality of English North American colonists during the war along with their wavering support for one side and the other (the Loyalist American English and the Continental American English respectively).
Moreover, the documentary presents the clash within the British side (i.e. the personality clashes-Clinton vs. Cornwallis, the admirals, etc.).
In addition, one truly recognizes and appreciates the involvement of French King Louis XVI (beginning in 1778) and the French contribution (who along with the Spaniards in 1779 and Dutch in 1780 entered the war in opposition to Great Britain, and tipped the scales against King George III.
Furthermore, there is special mention of the 100,000 American Loyalists that were forced into exile as well the Continentals' treatment (or mistreatment) of slaves and Indians alike.
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