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49 of 52 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Salem's Trials
This DVD is excellent for 11th Grade English Teachers, trying to go over the Salem witch trials can be difficult. If you purchase this DVD it goes step by step on how everything started and students get interested right away. I thought it was well explained and it was smooth transition into the whole Crucible unit.
Published on January 7, 2007 by Shalizeh

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61 of 70 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Shallow and Misleading
Salem Witch Trials / B0007WFUQ0

I've been fascinated with the Salem Witch Trials since I wrote a paper on the topic for my first year American History class in college. Since then, I've collected a modest collection of books, articles, and papers on the subject. I'm hardly an expert, but I do know enough to be terribly disappointed in this newest addition to my...
Published on January 20, 2009 by Amazon Customer


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49 of 52 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Salem's Trials, January 7, 2007
By 
Shalizeh "shalizeh2" (California United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Salem Witch Trials (History Channel) (DVD)
This DVD is excellent for 11th Grade English Teachers, trying to go over the Salem witch trials can be difficult. If you purchase this DVD it goes step by step on how everything started and students get interested right away. I thought it was well explained and it was smooth transition into the whole Crucible unit.
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56 of 62 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Introduction to The Salem Witch Hunts of 1692, February 16, 2006
By 
Matthew S. Schweitzer "zohoe" (Columbus, OH United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Salem Witch Trials (History Channel) (DVD)
This History Channel documentary is a good introductory history to the infamous witch trials that took place in Salem, Massachusetts in 1692. It gives a broad overview of the major events and characters in this tragic episode of fear and suspision in early colonial America.

The Salem Witch saga began in the winter of 1692 with the strange behavior surrounding a number of young girls living in Salem Village, several of whom were living in the household of the controversial village minister Samuel Parris. The girls were given to bizarre fits that the local physician was at a loss to explain except by the actions of witchcraft. Soon accusations were leveled at the minister's Carib Indian slave woman, Tituba, who, under torture, admitted to being a witch in league with the Devil. Before long, hundreds of people from the surrounding countryside were arrested and dragged into court to answer to charges of witchcraft. In the end, 19 people died as a result of the tumultuous trials before public sentiment finally turned against the accusers.

The Salem Witch Trials have loomed large in American history since the time they occurred. There have been many different attempts to explain the causes of the witchcraze that swept Salem, but the debate continues to this very day. This documentary gives a clear and basic understanding of the historical events that took place and serves as a good introduction to this material for anyone interested in this notorious event in American History.
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61 of 70 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Shallow and Misleading, January 20, 2009
This review is from: Salem Witch Trials (History Channel) (DVD)
Salem Witch Trials / B0007WFUQ0

I've been fascinated with the Salem Witch Trials since I wrote a paper on the topic for my first year American History class in college. Since then, I've collected a modest collection of books, articles, and papers on the subject. I'm hardly an expert, but I do know enough to be terribly disappointed in this newest addition to my Salem collection.

First of all, this documentary is extremely short - certainly not long enough to justify a twenty dollar asking price. The "50 minutes" length also includes the long teasers that aired prior to and after commercial breaks, bringing the 'actual' length to much shorter than 50 minutes.

Second, even accounting for this shortness, the content here is extremely shallow. I realize the History Channel is supposed to be approachable for everyone regardless of prior knowledge, but a detailed explanation that witches were persecuted because the Bible says not to allow a witch to live is unnecessary when a few mere sentences would have conveyed the same point, and the discussion comes across as a desperate attempt to eat up time for that magic 50 minute mark.

Third: Being short and shallow makes for a bad documentary for an enthusiast like me, but not necessarily a bad documentary for, say, a classroom of high schoolers. However, here is where the documentary is most troubling for it is *extremely* inaccurate. Mere opinions and modern supposition are presented here as facts. Real facts which would undermine these opinions are kept hidden from the audience, in the interests of "drama".

For example, the opinion is aired that perhaps the biggest impetus in stopping the Salem trials was that "nontraditional" people such as men were accused of being witches. The actual fact that, of the first three executions, three of the executed witches were men and that the trials still continued for months afterward before abating (or even losing steam!) is not mentioned, not even once. A newcomer to the topic would be left with the idea that naming men as witches was what caused the Salem trials to end, when nothing could be further from the truth.

In the interest of accuracy, it would be far more fair to include that the apparent biggest impetus to ending the trials was the Dutch document undermining spectral evidence entirely and the subsequent dismantling of the court by the governor, but there is nothing said about this - presumably because sexism (male witches vs. female accusers) is a more 'sexy' topic than politics and theology. There is also mention of George Burroughs' famous recitation of the Lord's Prayer at the gallows which is presented as being some sort of "turning point" in the peoples' minds, again without mentioning that if it WAS a "turning point", the actual turning was only accomplished months later!

Finally, the narrator also states unequivocally that there were "no transcripts" of the trial, and fails to temper this with the actual fact that copious notes were taken by several of the judges, many in near-transcript form! The fact that most (but not all) of the trials were recorded to history has been obscured in order to represent the much more interesting fiction that the whole event is supposedly surrounded by an impenetrable fog of mystery. This is dishonest and it is bad documentary technique, designed to entertain and titillate rather than inform.

An admittedly minor gripe of mine is also that, of the four or five 'experts' interviewed, two of them are religion professors with apparently little or nothing to add on the topic. It's unclear as to why an event that is notable for historical and psychological implications is left to religionists to interpret, and it feels like the makers decided that it was necessary to sprinkle in some nice religion experts so that they couldn't be accused of being anti-religion. If so, this is an incredibly cowardly way to construct a documentary - focusing on averting potential criticism of your motives rather than giving the best possible presentation regardless. If this had been a 3 hour long documentary, I wouldn't have minded the token religion professors nearly as much, but as a 50 minute presentation, it was grating to watch time slip away to the 'expert' opinion that Puritanism was a rough religion to adhere to and that modern jus' folks wouldn't like it much.

~ Ana Mardoll
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very interesting documentary, September 28, 2008
By 
B. Thomas (OKLAHOMA, United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Salem Witch Trials (History Channel) (DVD)
I teach high school English and this was a great suppliment to The Crucible. My students enjoyed it and asked many questions after viewing it. Highly recommend.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I play it every year, July 12, 2013
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This review is from: Salem Witch Trials (History Channel) (DVD)
I bought this dvd for my classroom several years ago, and I play it every year, prior to teaching THE CRUCIBLE to my sophomores. It fits neatly into one 55 minute class period, and is filled with factual details. This dvd definitely helps motivate my students to read Arthur Miller's play and gives them the historical perspective that they need to understand what they are reading.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Review, April 20, 2011
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This review is from: Salem Witch Trials (History Channel) (DVD)
Very informational. I made a worksheet on it and show it for my students when teaching The Crucible. It's pretty interesting, although I'm sure I'd have some sleepers if I didn't have the worksheet go along with it. It works nicely with The Crucible and lasts exactly one 48 minutes class period.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very Interesting and Informative, May 6, 2013
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This review is from: Salem Witch Trials (History Channel) (DVD)
This does a great job giving the context for this bizarre period of American History. If you are teaching or reading The Crucible, it really helps to give you some historical background.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very Much Worthwhile, May 14, 2010
This review is from: Salem Witch Trials (History Channel) (DVD)
The Salem Witch Trials have always been an area of fascination for me, ever since I was in elementary school. My wife and I popped this in the DVD player one night and are really glad we did. It's sad that so many people had to go through the horrors of the trials as they spiraled out of control and began to leak into the areas surrounding Salem.

The Witch Trials are a testament to how much control fear has over a population, fear with "lack of knowledge" even more so.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well put together program, December 13, 2012
This review is from: Salem Witch Trials (History Channel) (DVD)
The History Channel's "Salem Witch Trials" is a fascinating look at the witch hunts that took place in Salem, Massachusetts in 1692. This documentary on this dark event in American history is well written, well narrated, and includes a lot of quality still images as well as interviews with professors and scholars on the subject. For anybody who lacks knowledge of this historical event, this program will serve as a good introduction and solid educational foundation on this subject, not to mention a good supplemental source of information in addition to your scholastic studies.

I highly recommend it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting and educational, December 11, 2007
This review is from: Salem Witch Trials (History Channel) (DVD)
I wanted to watch this video, because I knew very little about the Salem Witch Trials. Even though the video is 45 minutes, I found it to be very interesting, and it really clarified for me what exactly happened back in 1692 in Salem. One thing I didn't know was that no one was burned at the stacks, the accused were hung. I also didn't know that those brought to trial, in the initial outbreak, were accused by several young girls who would go into demonic like fits in the courtroom, and this is one way the court would know that those on trial were guilty. These are just a couple of things I learned, but there were many more. Overall, I would recommend this video to anyone who also doesn't know much about the Salem Witch Trials, and wants an easy to digest lesson about it.
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Salem Witch Trials (History Channel)
Salem Witch Trials (History Channel) by In Search of History (DVD - 2005)
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