Sunday, August 9, 2009

PBS – DVD – Liberty!: The American Revolution (1997, 2004 DVD edition)

I don’t think the American Revolution is an easy story to tell. This war was long, fought at many locations. Often, there were dramatic results.

In the New York City campaign, we see Washington at his lowest ebb. His is desperate for long-term enlistments. Only after his limited victories at Trenton and Princeton do we see him as we usually see him, confident, in-charge, victorious. It was all uphill for him after that.

In some colonies, we had more of a civil war than a campaign against a foreign adversary.

After a few years, France was entirely funding our war for independence.

Given all these circumstances, I think PBS with Liberty! The American Revolution has done a bang-up job in presenting our revolution in six superbly-edited episodes up to our Constitution. It is clear, entertaining, well-presented. I enjoyed it very much. It is worth noting that all the words spoken by the actors come from speeches and writings of the specific period.

It would have been even better if the series existed with more episodes. Also, I found the last one, on the Constitution, somewhat wordy and lacking in some drama. But by 1787 new, powerful men were on the scene, such as Hamilton and Madison. Former revolutionary firebrands such as Patrick Henry were more subdued.

Did we rush into a constitution and federal status for our colonies? Maybe so, although dire economic circumstances required combined action. After all, peace with Great Britain was only declared in 1783, and we already set up a new republic in 1787!

I think all great political changes generate back-burners, where unsolved issues end up to smolder until they explode later. In 1776, slavery ended up on the back burner. Ten years later, nothing had changed. Then it took another eighty years to have the back burner explode, at a ghastly cost. Our Civil War was the federal answer to an issue that had been smoldering for decades. Which issues do you think are smoldering on back burners today?

This PBS series gives a good balance between our political war with its endless petitions to George III and Parliament with no solutions, and the military history of our revolutionary period.

I do feel, though, that the British war against us was doomed from the start. As early as 1777, Burgoyne, a crack British general, had serious problems keeping his ace troops supplied. No wonder I heard that what finally won World War II for us was Detroit and its endless assortment of trucks. – Renata Breisacher Mulry

Liberty! The American Revolution DVD on Amazon

Excellent soundtrack to Liberty! featuring Mark O'Connor

Download Mark O'Connor tracks

1776 – Movie Review from
The Patriot – Movie Review from
Sweet Liberty – Movie Review from

1 comment: Editor said...

Liked the music on this series.