Customer Review

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Focused and Balanced, but Imperfect, June 25, 2008
This review is from: 1968 with Tom Brokaw (History Channel) (DVD)
This documentary DVD is of value as an introduction to the late 1960's period, and an interesting retrospective for people who experienced the turmoil of the times. The piece also gives some perspectives on how the repercussions of the events of 1968 continue to be felt.

Brokaw's companion piece to his book "Boom: Voices of the Sixties" reviews the most significant events in this turbulent year and places the events in their historical context. The Tet offensive in Vietnam, the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy, student uprisings, the Chicago Democratic Convention and increasing black militancy all receive balanced treatment. In addition, the documentary examines the evolving New Left, civil rights and counter culture movements, as well as the reaction to them on the part of the larger "silent majority." The beginnings of the feminist movement are also described.

Brokaw's interviews include participants in events as well as people who experienced them from the outside. Events are treated with balance, as when the Chicago convention riots are described by both a policeman and a protestor who were present that night. Pat Buchanan is especially effective at highlighting how 1968 became a pivotal year for the rise of conservatism in presidential politics.

The program suffers from some sloppy and inattentive editing. For example, the interview of the army nurse in Vietnam only includes part of a story which, in the book version, helps explain the deep emotional impact of the war on her life. Also, the Arlo Guthrie segment on "Alice's Restaurant" comes across as a sentimental sing-along, and misses an opportunity to use the song to highlight the attitudes of many young people toward the military draft. Sometimes the editing feels "soft" and the material is a bit redundant around the commercial breaks.

Most annoying, especially when viewing the piece more than once, is the soundtrack on the disc. According to the DVD box, the soundtrack music on the original History Channel broadcast was replaced for the DVD version. The unlicensed, generic "tunes" that frame the documentary feel cheesy and cheap. Studio musicians attempt to replicate the sound of the times with tracks that sound familiar but never quite emerge as recognizable tunes.

All in all, "1968" is an interesting and useful retrospective on a very difficult year in American history. More attention to detail and more resources dedicated to music licensing would have made this a powerful piece, but it's still worth a look.
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