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Thomas Jefferson - A View From the Mountain (1995)

Sissy Spacek , Edward Herrmann , Martin Doblmeier  |  NR |  DVD
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)

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Thomas Jefferson - A View From the Mountain + Thomas Jefferson - A Film by Ken Burns
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Product Details

  • Actors: Sissy Spacek, Edward Herrmann, Danny Glover, Robert Prosky
  • Directors: Martin Doblmeier
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Anamorphic, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, HiFi Sound, NTSC, Surround Sound, THX, Widescreen
  • 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)
  • DVD Release Date: November 23, 2004
  • Run Time: 109 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0002ZDWS0
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #293,093 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Thomas Jefferson - A View From the Mountain" on IMDb

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

For centuries people have asked how it is possible that Thomas Jefferson, the man who wrote the creed for America, declaring that all men are created equal and entitled to the rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, could also live his life as a slaveholder. Martin Doblmeier answers these questions with the acclaimed THOMAS JEFFERSON: A VIEW FROM THE MOUNTAIN. THOMAS JEFFERSON: A VIEW FROM THE MOUNTAIN explores Jefferson and his personal and public dilemma about race, and his paradoxical relationship with slavery. He owned many slaves and wrote that he considered most blacks to be dull and anomalous, yet he believed blacks deserved a position of equality in society, and recent DNA tests prove he had an affair and offspring with his house slave, Sally Hemings. The documentary brings Jefferson's words and ideas to life through dozens of his original handwritten letters, excerpts from his original manuscripts, deeds of slave manumission, period newspapers, his will, political cartoons, and every known image of Jefferson painted during his lifetime. A host of acclaimed performers lend their voices to the program, including Edward Herrmann, Sissy Spacek, Danny Glover and Robert Prosky. The readings complement interviews with noted historians including Pulitzer Prize-winner Gordon Wood, civil rights leader Julian Bond, former congresswoman Barbara Jordan, U.S. Civil Rights Commissioner Mary Frances Berry and many others.


Beautifully made... Casts an unblinking eye on Jefferson's often painful, contradictory and shifting views about race and slavery. --Charlottesville Daily Progress

Thoughtful...look at Jefferson's life, ideas, and career. --The New York Times

Scrupulously researched and carefully balanced. --The Associated Press

Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
I found this jewel by accident while I was looking for films about mountain climbing. Well, that just goes to show you that life is indeed a box of chocolates. This piece requires a bit of work to chew but it's well worth the effort and I highly recommend it.

This documentary does an excellent job of revealing the path that led towards the manifestation of the truth: That all MEN, of all races, were indeed created with an inalienable and equal right for the free pursuit of happiness. It shows us the loss of this right is not the state of human existence desired by our Creator; but that it is instead a manifestation of the chains of tyranny which men themselves create.

We are shown that outright slavery is only the most obvious example of the ways in which men are deprived of their freedom. The film describes how the seeds of this truth were sown in early drafts of the Declaration of Independence. It goes on to illustrate the necessity of preserving the existing social and economic structure, including slavery, so the nation could serve as fertile ground in which the tree of liberty would grow.

This film indicates Jefferson recognized the process of ending slavery had to be one of slow change and compromise. TJ believed that proceeding in haste would have meant the destruction of the nation. The film leads me to admire the vision, perseverance, and honor of this extraordinary leader.

It concludes by revealing that even Jefferson was not immune to a far more subtle, far more pervasive form of tyranny that exists to this day: He died in debt - hardly the "evil tax-evading capitalist slave owner" that postmodern progressives would have us believe he was.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent movie! February 21, 2000
Format:VHS Tape
Unbiased, systematic and dynamic composition of historical facts and interpretations, authentic documents, extraordinary landscapes and music. A viewer can enjoy Jefferson's controversial biography set in one of the most dramatic periods of American history, as well as the evolution of collective and individual ethics related to slavery and human rights.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Jefferson and slavery November 30, 2004
Format:VHS Tape
This documentary, written and narrated by Martin Doblmeier, focuses on Thomas Jefferson the slaveholder. It explores his feelings and actions, which often conflicted, regarding the institution of slavery. In my opinion, the film presents the material in an unbiased and nonjudgmental fashion that preserves Jefferson's position as a hero of the American Revolution and champion of freedom. It is an excellent film and a great companion to the Ken Burns documentary on Jefferson.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Misplaced Review June 22, 2005
The Review by Ariafresca is misplaced. He is reviewing another film, not Thomas Jefferson: A View from the Mountain. He refers to actors and sets, but this film has none. What it does have is an unflinching look at America's oldest and most deeply-rooted moral equivocation, one that haunts us still today. The films's intelligence, thoroughness and honesty are constitute a rare find. How nice to be reasoned with rather than pandered to or berated.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Misleading June 22, 2012
I personally was expecting a broad view of Jefferson's life that talked about many things such as his birth, his marriage, his politics, including the revolution, his tenure in France, the Vice Presidency and of course the Presidency.

What you get is an hour long discussion on Jefferson's views on slavery, and not matter what the subject is it is always brought back to slavery. I expected slavery to be a part of this and an important part but not the sole focus.
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