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Death and The Civil War (American Experience)


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Product Details

  • Format: NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Studio: Public Braodcasting Service
  • Release Date: Sept. 18 2012
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • ASIN: B0089VX0UO
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #39,052 in DVD (See Top 100 in DVD)

Product Description

Based on the best-selling book by Drew Gilpin Faust, this film will explore how the American Civil War created a “republic of suffering” and will chart the far-reaching social, political, and social changes brought about by the pervasive presence and fear of death during the Civil War.

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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
If you are interested in the American Civil War this program will give a little different slant to the subject. Very interesting and informative.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 95 reviews
36 of 38 people found the following review helpful
Death And The Civil War During the Sesquicentennial Sept. 13 2012
By civilwarlibrarian - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD
Without a doubt, This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War by Drew Gilpin Faust put the Civil War on the bestseller lists again. Published in 2008, Faust's work illuminated for many a new view of Ken Burns' Civil War 1990 series. Popular culture treats the American Civil War differently than scholars, buffs and reenactors treat the war. For popular culture the market place is a battlefield; products vie for mass attention and sales. Now during the 150th sesquicentennial of 1862, the public will likely take a glance at the Civil War. Ric Burns' Death and the Civil War will premiere on Tuesday September 18th on public broadcasting television. Based upon Faust's bestselling non-fiction work, Death and the Civil War is a sobering reminder that the Civil War was a landscape turned red by 750,000+ deaths in four years.

At 120 minutes, Burns' pace is deliberate and provocative. The opening segment is jarring. A few moments before his death, a Mississippi soldier begins writing a letter to his father. The man bleeds onto the paper has he haltingly reveals his last thoughts about his life, service, death and afterlife. Within this 12 minute preface viewers' hearts may begin to break. The images that Burns selects include photography from the era; within the images there are ghosts, individuals who moved during the 30 second to a minute and half exposure time. There are subtleties in the images and texts that may move past the causal viewer; such may be the estimate that of the 750,000+ deaths 50% were not identified by name.

The chapters are each about 15 minutes in length: Death, Burying, Naming, Honoring, Believing and Doubting, Accounting, and Remembering. Drew Gilpin Faust is the most frequently interviewed expert during the film; generally her remarks impart important facts but on one occasion it appears that she minimizes the 6,500+ deaths during the Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom campaigns. The individual being interviewed who is most likely to be remembered is Thomas Lynch, undertaker and poet. He remarks defines and gently elevates the bleak discussions that, at times, may approach melodrama. The narration by Oliver Platt and music compositions by Brian Keane are effective in conveying grief and hope. Is there an 'Ashoken Farewell' on the soundtrack. Yes, possibly two: A Thousand Thoughts [Tusen Tankar] and Republic of Suffering in acoustic and orchestral versions. Both the film and the soundtrack are immediately available after the Tuesday evening broadcast and they are worth every penny and much more. Ric Burns' Death And The Civil War is an exceptionally fine work in the field of television broadcasting and presentation of historic artifacts, photographs and sentiments.
21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
Nothing Civil About It Sept. 18 2012
By Dan Holder - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD
The subject matter holds no allegience to North or South...only to the grave. If you're familiar with Ken Burns you know what to expect & you won't be disappointed. Less of the "talking heads" than in previous works which I'm glad to see. I have no doubts it will join the ranks of great American History documentaries particularly in this genre.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Profound and moving Sept. 24 2012
By N. Perz - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD
D&TCW is a profound and moving piece of work. In many ways, the style seems similar to the rightfully famous Ken Burns series, "The Civil War" from the 1990s (another must-see classic). Haunting in presentation and heart-wrenching in substance, this documentary goes very far beyond the existential questions of perceptions of death, society's relationship with death, and the ways in which the Civil War turned these values/beliefs upside down. It is a testimony to the depths of humanity (and, sometimes, the lack thereof) of individuals as well as of society.

There's really nothing I can write that will adequatly convey the impact of this documentary. This is a must-see for every American.

Recommneded in the strongest possible terms.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
You Think WE Have It Bad NOW??? Oct. 24 2013
By Jan Odegaard - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD
I've studied, researched, & collected 19th Century mourning etiquette, death, funerals, memorabilia & grief for many years and lectured on it. Present day talk of sex and how we came to be has replaced Victorian attitudes toward death: children were told the stork brought babies but were involved in deaths at home, where it most commonly took place. It was expected, prepared for, and all details were handled at home, including the funeral. There was no such thing as an undertaker until the Civil War & embalming was not common until then but became necessary when the bodies of soldiers, most of whom died in the South, needed preservation in order to be shipped home for burial---thus the many industries created: the undertaker, "mourning houses" that supplied the proper attire & accesories, rules of etiquette & dress that grew ever more complicated until after WW1. We think of those people then as obsessive, yet they were allowed to grieve openly, publicly; today, we are expected to return to work and "get over it" in a short time---we avoid and deny death, leaving all the details to the funeral director. There are many reasons for this, which I cover in my lectures, but suffice it to say that The Victorians dealt with it because they expected it.
I saw this documentary and although I am a Civil War historian as well, I had never delved into the citizens left to deal with thousands of dead soldiers & animals when the warring armies lit out of town. This film is stunning, despite its subject matter, and I have the book that it is based on. The documentary is EXCELLENT! Today's citizens, mostly women & children, could never handle what these people had to do, yet they set about burying the dead as soon as possible with no resources but their own & it was a horrific & daunting task. The Civil War killed more men than ALL wars the U.S. has been involved in combined, and the only war fought on U.S. soil. It spawned changes & industries formerly unknown that we take for granted today. Yes, it's gruesome, unpleasant, and incredibly sad, but I highly recommend this to anyone interested in "how it really was back then" beyond the fairy tale of Scarlett O'Hara & "Gone With The Wind"---a fine & classic novel, my all time favorite movie---but it barely touches on the realities of life, especially in the South, at the time. There were many Heroes in the Civil War, but the women (and children)left to deal with the carnage and deprivation are rarely recognized. I highly recommend this documentary as one of American Experience's finest, and will no doubt say the same after I read the book it's based on. Death will come for us all---are you prepared?
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Documentary Film Making at its best Aug. 16 2013
By CLJ - Published on Amazon.com
This film has to be taken for what it is...a documentary about how death was viewed/dealt with/changed during the Civil War, it's impact on the soldiers and civilian population at the time, as well as after the fact. It addresses the cultural significance to death at the beginning and through the entire time of the civil war.

I am the Daughter/Granddaughter/Great Granddaughter of morticians, so death is my family business. But I never really thought about hos the social aspects of death would have been changed by the war. It's not a topic that is addressed in schools, as are many of the, what are considered, distasteful topics of life.

I am very glad that I watched this.

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