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The American Experience - Abraham and Mary Lincoln: A House Divided
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The story of the Lincolns was originally shown on PBS's program "American Experience," and follows the format that has made that series so respected by viewers. Photographs, drawings, paintings, maps, and other artifacts contemporary to the times alternate with new film footage that enhances the story line. Well known performers do the voiceovers -- in this case David Morse is Lincoln, and Holly Hunter is the voice of Mary Todd Lincoln. There are no stagey recreations of events with unknown performers taking the parts of historical characters, which one often sees in series made for The History Channel or Arts and Entertainment Network. The three volume set runs about six hours and contains bonus materials that appear on each individual disc. The quality of the picture and sound is outstanding. The music is excellent and of the time period, and is never distacting.
While people of all ages and backgrounds in American history could enjoy this series, I especially recommend it to families with high school or college age students, along with Ken Burns "The Civil War" and the PBS video biography of General Grant. This would also make an excellent gift for Father's Day or for a Civil War buff's birthday.
This documentary helps to remind us of that side of Lincoln, as we see the young ambitious lawyer/politician & his equally ambitious wife struggle to make a life together. It is a story, above everything else, of great personal loss (for both Abraham & Mary Lincoln), and at times it makes this documentary painful to watch. As one watches Abraham Lincoln cope the overwhelming stress of a wartime presidency, having already lost two children, one yearns for the time when Abraham & Mary Lincoln can finally, even for a little while, relax in retirement and enjoy each other's company once again, without the demands of the office to distract them. Despite knowing it never did happen, I found myself feeling this way. Of course, the story takes the viewer through to a marriage ended by murder & a subsequent emotional collapse. It is exhausting to watch.
The documentary provides a great amount of detail. Some have complained that one sees the same images of the Lincolns over and over again, although I would think that after "The Civil War," people would be used to seeing an unending series of still photos on the television screen.Read more ›
Of course it is history that overwhelms the story Grubin sets off to tell. For the last two thirds of "A House Divided," basically from the start of the Civil War until the assassination of Lincoln, Mary becomes a minor character. However, given the essentially balanced nature of the first couple of episodes, this shift becomes somewhat disconcerting. Eventually I adjusted to this shift, having recognized that the Civil War certainly put Lincoln's marriage on the back burner, but I think Grubin could have cut two hours from this series, whittling down the recapitulation of basic Civil War history to keep the focus on the increasingly unhappy couple. After all, that is the hook that is used to reel us into watching this documentary, which originally aired on PBS's "American Experience."
Each of the three-videotapes in this series contains two episodes.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I cannot recommend this dvd series highly enough!! One truly experiences both Abraham and Mary Lincoln in these six episodes of an hour each. Read morePublished 5 months ago by R. D. Packer
Absolutely great historical piece ... essential viewing for all Americans ... and beyond ...Published 8 months ago by Joe V
Provides intimate insight into Abe and Mary's early life and their years together.Published 10 months ago by Morella
Fascinating history that combines history on a grand scale with a look into the personal lives of two people who loved each other despite the many bumps. Read morePublished 10 months ago by Jeena