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American Experience: Clinton

4.5 out of 5 stars 230 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

In the tradition of American Experiences acclaimed Presidents series, Clinton provides an intimate, honest, balanced look at the 42nd presidents life, career, and legacy. This definitive biography will track William Jefferson Clinton from his difficult childhood in Hope, Arkansas, through his meteoric rise in state politics, to the highs and lows of his tumultuous presidency.

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The career of one of America's most confounding leaders--a brilliant mind and naturally gifted politician who seemed bent on self-destruction--is chronicled in Clinton, an even-handed portrait of the 42nd US president originally broadcast by PBS. Narrated by actor Campbell Scott, the two-part, four-hour documentary traces Bill Clinton's political ambitions back to Arkansas, where he managed to block out a turbulent adolescence (replete with a drunk, violent stepfather) and establish himself as a rising star who was not merely slick and charismatic but knowledgeable and determined. And Clinton's "Comeback Kid" moniker was no lie. After losing his first political campaign at age 28, he became Arkansas's attorney general, then its governor--twice--followed by a tentative run for president in 1988 that was aborted by revelations of his womanizing, his notoriously long speech at that year's Democratic Convention, and, of course, the successful campaign in 1992 against incumbent George H.W. Bush that carried Clinton and wife Hillary, his de facto "co-president," to the White House. His first term was marked by grand successes (a federal surplus and economic boom) and epic failures (the Hillary-led attempt to reform healthcare was, if anything, even less popular than Barack Obama's, while misadventures in Somalia and Rwanda revealed his foreign policy weaknesses). And yet, despite the disastrous '94 midterm elections that gave control of Congress to Newt Gingrich and the Republicans, Clinton rather easily won a second term in '96. But this was a guy who couldn't stand prosperity; he was continually dogged by the Whitewater real estate controversy (and the "relentless, implacable" special prosecutor, Kenneth Starr), and his final years were marked by the tawdry Monica Lewinsky scandal and his impeachment, both of which he somehow managed to survive. This remarkable tale is brought to life via numerous film clips and interviews with those who worked for and with the Clintons, various writers and reporters, and other talking heads. We do not hear directly from Bill or Hillary; and although we don't hear much from their many critics on the right (other than former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott and a couple of others), either, even the Clintons' fiercest enemies would have to concede that Clinton is a fair and balanced look at a man who clearly left office with his country in better shape than it had been in when he got there. --Sam Graham

Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: .
  • Directors: Barak Goodman
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, Dolby, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated:
    NR
    Not Rated
  • Studio: PBS
  • DVD Release Date: February 21, 2012
  • Run Time: 240 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (230 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00652U70A
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #18,942 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
Whether you're a Clinton fan or detractor (unless you're at the extreme end of either pole), I think you'll find PBS's two disc documentary on the life of the 42nd President of the United States to be a fair and unbiased presentation of Clinton's presidency, the good, the bad and the x-rated.

The documentary traces Clinton's life from his Arkansas boyhood, living with his mother and his abusive stepfather, and follows with how he met and married Hillary, his early political rise leading to his time in the Governor's mansion, complete with the triumphs and disasters which accompanied his tenure in state politics. It describes how his national profile became elevated, how a long and boring speech at a Democratic convention almost torpedoed his political ascendency, and how he was able to learn from and get past that mistake. It goes on to relive his campaign for the Democratic nomination in 1992, complete with the first national publicity of his extra-marital affairs, and the masterful way in which he overcame that hurdle to become the Comeback Kid.

The segment on the 1992 election is a wonderful recounting of how the obscure southern governor was able to defeat a President who, less than a year earlier, enjoyed an unprecedented 90% approval rating by schooling everyone in the lesson that, when it comes to presidential elections, "it's the economy stupid", a lesson that subsequent presidents forget at their peril.
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Format: DVD
Clinton, one in a long line of American Experience presidential portraits, brings to the table a well-rounded and informative portrait of the president. You will walk away with an understanding of the course of his political life, and the major issues that shaped his two terms in office.

This man is perhaps least understood by people like me, who were very young when he took office and never experienced him "live." Before I watched this, I generally understood his tenure as one of a sex scandal and impeachment. Most of his other accomplishments and failures faded to the background. Thankfully, this video provides a vicarious catch-up on what happened a few years ago. Lest we turn Bill into a one-liner, it is important to watch this film, remembering what he accomplished as a politician and reflecting on his vision as a leader. Depth and fairness are really the goals of public broadcasting, and this program provides a great deal of both. The content is thoughtful and memorable.

That being said, the stylistic approach caused me to shake my head a few times in disappointment. Compare this with American Experience: FDR, which presented overwhelmingly-neutral and unembellished commentary. This film, though, at times strays into subjectivity, dramatization, and triviality. Some of the commentary takes on a tabloid style.

The problem is most noticeable with the coverage of the president's scandals. While you would hope the topic to be covered carefully and given due context, PBS seemed to adopt the popular approach - to make it an issue of book deals, high-powered wheeling and dealing, and attention-grabbing headlines.
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An absolutely first rate use of photographs used to enhance a compelling narrative. A vivid reminder of the Clinton years, particularly when it comes to foreign policy about whether to get involved in Somalia, Rawada and Bosnia. Clinto's legacy is being reassessed. What hasn't been is the shameful blanket coverage by the press of Monica Lewinsky. She's coming out of the shadows to start the debate, especially because the Internet is finding new ways to hurt and shame people. I wish her the best. The real villains of this long drawn out press frenzy are Ken Starr who spent millions of dollars and came up with nothing and the deplorable Linda Tripp.
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The story is still unfolding. Dennis hastert was brought in to replace Gingrich, and was supposed to be Mr. clean. Turns he was having sex with a man, while he was trying to impeach clinton for getting a B**w job in the white house
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Weaves a story how a small time politician moved up the ranks to become one of the best Presidents of the late 20th century. He was a risk taker in policy and if not for his womanizing would rank as one of the great's. Lost elections but would comeback stronger. Makes you appreciate him. He left George H Bush a budget surplus. Balanced the budget and worked with Newt Gingrich a Republican to be the last President to work with the opposing party to get things done. To bad the Dem's And Republicans have such animosity against each other and now since Clinton we have had 15 years of dead lock.
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Series was rather well designed but it left me with the sense of Clinton as a "user" of everyone he came his across especially Hilary. And yes, I know that a marriage is a give and take relationship, but the idea of him letting her "fight his battles" on how he was abused by Republicans, when she was a wronged wife, was just too hard to even for a stranger to watch.
All this "slick Billy" lawyering his way out of dirt, just didn't sit well with me. I would say, I felt worse about Bill Clinton after the series.
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