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Underground Railroad (History Channel) (2002)

Alfre Woodard , Jeff Lengyel  |  NR |  DVD
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)

Price: $49.99 & FREE Shipping. Details
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Underground Railroad (History Channel) + Underground Railroad: The William Still Story + American Experience: The Abolitionists
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Product Details

  • Actors: Alfre Woodard
  • Directors: Jeff Lengyel
  • Producers: Jeff Lengyel, Steve Kroopnick, Stu Schreiberg, Susan Michaels
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, Full Screen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
  • 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: A&E Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: January 28, 2003
  • Run Time: 95 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00007GZYD
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #40,347 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Underground Railroad (History Channel)" on IMDb

Special Features

  • "Frederick Douglass" episode of A&E Biography
  • Background information on the Dred Scott case
  • Harriet Tubman biography
  • Timeline of key historical events

Editorial Reviews

Product Description

They were determined to undo slavery one person at a time, even at the risk of imprisonment-or death. Alfre Woodard hosts this inspiring journey to freedom, with historical documents and interviews with descendants telling the tale of the history, heroes and villains of the Abolitionist movement. Includes A&E's Biography: Frederick Douglass , segments on the Emancipation Proclamation, Dredd Scott case and Harriet Tubman, and a timeline. 1998/color/120 min/NR/Stereo.

The Underground Railroad, "the first civil rights movement," was no mere act of civil disobedience. The secret network of guides, pilots, and safe-house keepers (the Railroad's "conductors") was built by runaway slaves who, over the decades, communicated their experiences through songs and secret gestures, and were supported by abolitionists (many of them former slaves) who risked their own freedom to help free the enslaved. The "passengers" risked their lives.

A wealth of photos, documents, and commentary by modern historians provides the broad lines of history, but it comes alive in the individual stories of conductors and passengers, among them abolitionist and historian William Still, called the "Father of the Underground Railroad," and Henry "Box" Brown, who mailed himself to freedom in a cargo crate. They (and many others) take their place beside Harriet Tubman ("the Moses of her people") and Frederick Douglass as courageous heroes in America's first integrated social movement.

The DVD also features the Biography episode on Frederick Douglass, the complete text of the Emancipation Proclamation, a biographical essay on Harriet Tubman, and other historical background pieces. --Sean Axmaker

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
28 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars fine documentary of the first civil rights movement November 17, 2007
The History Channel's documentary on the Underground Railroad remains one of the definitive television documentaries of this very early civil rights movement. After quickly establishing that the Underground Railroad was certainly not a railroad train that literally ran underground, we see that the Underground Railroad was in fact a hodge-podge, "make it up as you go along" way of escaping slavery in the southern United States to freedom in the northern United States.

The documentary gives us great interviews with historians from fine universities including Princeton and Howard University. Together these historians tell stories that enlighten us about what it was like to use the Underground Railroad to escape to freedom. We see that the routes to safety didn't always work--some slaves were caught and either killed on the spot or returned to their masters for brutal treatment. There were bounty hunters everywhere and even if a runaway slave was successful just crossing the Ohio River proved to be a whopping challenge--after all, many people didn't know how to swim at the time.

We also learn of the pivotal roles played by white and black abolitionists including Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman during the decades before the civil war; and the re-enactments have acting that simulates rather well what a runaway slave looked like as they made their daring escape to freedom.

There's so much more about the Underground Railroad that is discussed in this fantastic documentary; but I must leave some things out to whet your appetite to watch or buy this awesome film.

The DVD comes with a few extras.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars a fantastic collection of stories April 25, 2008
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
This DVD was essentially a collection of stories about the underground railroad. They include most, if not all of the well known railroad "conductors". There was not a whole lot of dramatization, but the stories and the visuals throughout the stories were good enough to keep me occupied and interested throughout.
Stories that they tell include some of the more well known one's, like "boxcar Brown" and they also told some stories that I had not heard (despite going over this period of history 4 times during college, one of which the class was dedicated to the subject of slavery). They also talk a lot about some of the abolitionists and the sentiment of the North and how they aided the escape of numerous slaves.
All in all I really enjoyed the DVD, more than I had anticipated that would. The one criticism that I would make is the glowing portrayal of John Brown. IMO the man was a half-baked nut job and his attack on Harpers Ferry was is not something that should be counted as a positive moment in the anit-slavery movement. They failed to mention that the first man killed in Brown's assault was a black man, a freed slave...
Aside from the John Brown stuff however, it was a great DVD that I would highly recommend to anyone interested in slavery, the Civil War, or just American hitory in general.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Follow The Drinking Gourd" September 12, 2008
One of the most general perceptions that I received from my high school history days in the 1960's concerning the fate of black slaves in America was that they essentially passively waited for the Union armies to free them during the process of the Civil War in the 1860's. In short, blacks had no pre-history as a people who struggled for freedom in their own right but were merely the victims of history. Of course, since those days I have made it my business to find out the real story of slave resistance and although there are many parts that are lost to history we now know that as least some slaves in some situations found ways to break their bondage. Aided during the past few decades by serious scholarly research into the subject we have a more rounded view of the dynamics of slavery in ante bellum American society. This well done History Channel docu-drama, hosted by actress Alfre Woodard, presents one part of that struggle- the work of the Underground Railroad- the fight of courageous individual blacks, aided sometimes by their Northern supporters, to `follow the drinking gourd' North to freedom.

This presentation, complete with the `talking head' commentators that inevitably accompany such efforts, goes back to the early days of slavery and demonstrates that there was always an element of the struggle for freedom by black slaves from the earliest days of European settlement in North America. Moreover, a cadre of freed blacks who were the catalyst for the freedom struggle developed from early on as well. However, the black anti-slavery movement (and for that matter the white part of the anti-slavery movement) did not get energized until the early 19th century in response to the increasing use of slaves to cultivate the expanding cotton crop on Southern plantations.
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16 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Knowledge is power September 27, 2006
This is a very good release by the history channel that sheds some light on the underground railroad. I could care less about the acting in this film because this is a documentary. Most documentaires aren't rated on how the acting is but how the information is conveyed to the masses. I felt this is a good release because it is talking about a lot of people and information that are being neglected universally in the schools of amerikkka. More documentaries about africans and our history need to be produced and fused into all schools around the nation.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 2 months ago by George King
5.0 out of 5 stars A part of slavery that needs to be told
I have a number of films on the Civil War, Civil Rights and slavery but, not much on the Underground Railroad. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Richard B
5.0 out of 5 stars Great doc!
Great documentary. I used it in my classroom for Social Studies and even my students loved it. A lot of depth and new knowledge for viewers. Read more
Published 10 months ago by J. Sappington
5.0 out of 5 stars Stellar Documentary About Escape from Slavery
"Underground Railroad" is a documentary covering the escape of slaves before the American Civil War.

- Important and fascinating subject matter. Read more
Published 14 months ago by William B. Dwinnell IV
3.0 out of 5 stars its good
some videos are just classic videos with good useful info to learn about and pass on, this has that. we enjoyed it.
Published 17 months ago by M. Williams
5.0 out of 5 stars Underground Railroad (History Channel)
the history channel always does a great job of narrating a topic and this one is no exception. Alfre Woodard is a great host and this film is a great view on the Underground... Read more
Published 19 months ago by WritingIrish
5.0 out of 5 stars Wow!
Alfre Woodard does an excellent job as narrator! It is a great teaching tool! My students really learned about American History!
Published 19 months ago by lovethatjazz
5.0 out of 5 stars Very Informative
I thought they did a very good job of presenting many interesting facts and photos. No info on the quilts that were used at this time, but that's ok as there is a lot of other... Read more
Published 20 months ago by cs
5.0 out of 5 stars beautiful dvd
i highly recommend this dvd, its very educational, with great details, it make me even more so to be very proud this be a black beautiful woman, we weren't suppose to last this... Read more
Published on February 13, 2012 by tany
5.0 out of 5 stars educational
This is a very educational video. I am trying to get videos of major moments in history so that my sons can see how it was. I even learned a lot from this video. Thank you
Published on November 9, 2011 by Faye Kuehl
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