The American Civil War
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The American Civil War is one of the most studied military conflicts in world history. There have been numerous books, films and documentaries that have looked at almost every aspect of the war, yet none have taken you directly to the battle line to see the action from the soldier’s point of view. With the help of several thousand living history re-enactors, THE AMERICAN CIVIL WAR penetrates the fog of war and allows you to experience the glory and heartache of the battles that changed war forever. Through personal letters, official reports and diaries, viewers will come to understand not only the battle but also the political and personal factors that caused our nation to take up arms. The captivating period photography, the authentic Civil War-era music and the fascinating living history re-enactments bring to life this enormous struggle and allow future generations to bear witness to events that forged our nation.
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Beyond the obviously low budget with which the producers had to contend a number of irritating historical errors have crept in to this documentary. When discussing historical figures, a portrait of the named person generally appears onscreen. In the case of Gideon Welles, U.S. Secretary of the Navy, his name is consistently misspelled "Wells." This is an example of basic fact-checking laziness, and is really intolerable. Worse yet, after the Battles of Gettysburg and Vicksburg (July 1863) the film picks up its narrative in the late winter of 1864, some nine months later. The gap in time is inexplicable and unaddressed, and gives the viewer an incomplete history and stamps it as a second-rate work.
Lastly, and perhaps leastly, the documentary displays a very subtle but definite prejudice toward the Confederate cause. Civil War era songs about "shooting Billy Yank," detailed descriptions of even minor Confederate victories, and narrative descriptions of "the graybacks gallantly charging" give the documentary a partisan feel, especially in the near absence of counterbalancing comments in regard to the Union.
The one advantage this set has is price, so if you are interested in the Civil War but can't afford the far superior work by Ken Burns this is an adequate stand-in until such time as your pocket can stand the strain.
There were clips of Civil War re-enactments and old movies. There was (I kid you not) some footage taken from an old silent film, of a white man in black face depicting a slave, white lips and all. That kind of thing just makes you scratch your head. Someone was honestly trying to put together an intellectual movie about the Civil War, and did so with minstrel-like footage. Battlefield enactment clips were shot in such a way that you could see the gridiron's 10-yard goal lines. I have a feeling that this movie was edited with whatever footage that could be had for free.
Nevertheless, there was something to be learned for me, like why the indentured servitude system petered out, and how native Americans, who made difficult slaves, were sold into slavery to Caribbean island. Hard to escape an island. This movie filled in gaps of my knowledge, the kind of smaller pieces of information that never makes it into history books. It seems as though the intent of the movie was to fill in gaps left by other movies, whiz through ones filled in by others. For instance, a lot of time was spent on the battles in Kentucky, which I don’t remember ever hearing about before, yet only a couple minutes seemed to be dedicated to Gettysburg. Also, I learned about the war still being fought after Lee’s surrender to Grant, including a few guys who finally gave up the ghost in 1867.
This was definitely a worthwhile 5 disks for the new information to be gleaned from it.
The first half an hour or more is an overly drawn out history of slavery in the America's and much more than was needed to set the stage for war.
I've only watched the first two DVD's and don't know if I will waste my time on the rest. I don't understand how they can spend 15 minutes giving a detailed account of the Battle of Mill Springs but only a minute or so on Shiloh.
My biggest problem is with unforgivable historical mistakes. At first I wasn't sure. There would be little things I would hear and think, is that right? I wasn't absolutley sure until they continually labeled the Battle of Perryville as happening on October 4th 1862 when I knew for sure it was the 8th. It validates the questions I had on the accuracy of the account of Antietam, Perryville, and Fort Donelson. I really don't care enough to go back and double check. This is just a poorly made DVD series.
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My wife could not get the menu to work at all on any of the 5 CDs.Read more