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(History and Social Issues)

Crusades (1995)Crusades (1995)

Former Monty Python member Terry Jones hosts this journey along the ancient route of the Crusades from Europe to the near East. Computer animation, "living" paintings, battle recreations and lush illustration bring this bloody, enriching and sometimes comical clash of Christianity and Islam back to life. Four volumes, fifty minutes each.'s review:
Terry Jones, former member of the British comedy troupe Monty Python, is the perfect choice to narrate A&E's four-part series "Crusades," a vivid account of the towering folly that prompted Europeans to march eastward and wage four senseless and bloody campaigns against the "infidels" to rescue the Holyland. In doing so, priests and soldiers alike slaughtered (and often ate!) millions of men, women and children, and the spirit of their terrorism lives on in the Middle East to this day. At this distance, we can laugh - and remember that freedom from religion is sometimes just as valuable as freedom of religion.

Thomas Jefferson: A Film by Ken Burns (1996)Thomas Jefferson: A Film by Ken Burns (1996)

Historical documentary which tells the dramatic story of America's third President, his personal struggle with the slavery issue, and the relationship he shared with one of his slaves, Sally Hemmings.

A two-part examination of the life of Thomas Jefferson, whose career as statesman and founding father, including authoring the Declaration of Independence and becoming the third President, places him in the pantheon of historic figures. With Sam Waterston as Jefferson. Narrated by Ossie Davis.

Who Wrote the Bible? (1996)Who Wrote the Bible? (1996)'s review:
Debates have long raged over the Bible's authorship. "The Bible is a library, and libraries only get built over long, long years, centuries," notes one biblical scholar in the two-part Who Wrote the Bible?. Yet many disagree, believing that the Bible is the literal word of God, handed down to mortals who acted merely as transcribers. This fascinating video explores questions such as "How much of the Bible is the word of God, and how much is the work of mortals?" "Are all the original books still in the Bible?" and "Where do legend and history intersect in the Bible?" Delving into the theory that four authors took part, examining historical evidence such as the Dead Sea Scrolls, and looking at ancient customs, we are given a new perspective on the most well-known and well-read text of all time. The first 75-minute tape looks at the five books of Moses--the Old Testament--while the second 75-minute tape examines the New Testament. This is a truly interesting investigation of the origins of the Bible, engaging for those with a background in religion and educational for the layperson. --Jenny Brown

Priests of Passion: Celibacy In the Catholic Church (1993)Priests of Passion: Celibacy In the Catholic Church (1993)

In the past twenty years 100,000 Catholic priests (one-fourth of those ordained worldwide) left the Church to marry. Priests of Passion takes an in-depth look at this phenomenon, and examines the reasons why so many have given up their calling to return to civilian life.

Coming Out Under Fire (1994)Coming Out Under Fire (1994)

Nine gay men and women relate extraordinary stories of how they maintained a homosexual identity, although closeted, in the armed services during World War II. The film examines the U.S. military's history of blatant discrimination against gays and lesbians. Recent footage includes the 1993 Senate hearings on gays in the military, which brought us the questionable slogan and recruitment rule, "Don't ask, don't tell." Winner of the Special Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival.

Blood in the Face (1991)Blood in the Face (1991)

A left-leaning documentary look at the far right movement in the U.S., featuring footage and profiles on the Ku Klux Klan, the Aryan Nations movement, the American Nazi Party, and Louisiana politician David Duke.

Survivors of the Holocaust (1995)Survivors of the Holocaust (1995)'s review:
The Survivors of the Shoah (Hebrew for Holocaust) Foundation grew out of Steven Spielberg's research for his film Schindler's List. He interviewed many survivors of the Holocaust and found that, despite their similar experiences, each had a unique story to tell. In order to preserve these memories for future generations so that the horrors of Nazi Europe might never be forgotten, Spielberg created the foundation, whose mission involves taping interviews with the remaining survivors. Survivors of the Holocaust provides just the briefest glimpse of the many stories the foundation has collected. The video is broken into thirds by year, so we learn of life before the Holocaust, during internment in concentration camps, and after liberation. The testimonies are powerful, and at times overwhelming. The photos and film clips are frequently horrifying and may be too much for younger viewers. The video opens with a brief presentation, hosted by Ben Kingsley, about the foundation itself. This is the weakest part of the video--at points it seems to serve simply as a reminder of how wonderful Spielberg is for his involvement in this effort--but don't let it deter you . No matter how much you may have seen or read about the Holocaust, the interviews will affect you tremendously. A powerful, powerful experience.--Jenny Brown

For the Living: The Story of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum (1994)For the Living: The Story of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum (1994)

For the Living focuses on the creators of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Follow their journey from Washington DC to the sites of the death camps and ghettos as they attempt to build a permanent reminder of the dark days of the Holocaust. Originally airing on PBS, this video traces the history of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum from its inception, combining footage of the museum with interviews with survivors and the curators. Narrated by Ed Asner.

One Nation Under God (1993)One Nation Under God (1993)

Interviews and archival footage are used to examine the views and methods of religion and psychiatry in "curing" and "treating" homosexuality. Some sequences are unintentionally funny and feature "ex-lesbians" learning the benefits of beauty makeovers and "ex-homosexuals" playing football. The film is centered around a male couple, once leaders of a church for former homosexuals, who talk about the techniques used to convert gays.

Ballot Measure 9 (1995)Ballot Measure 9 (1995)

A powerful and frightening documentary that explores issues surrounding Ballot Measure 9 --a 1992 Oregon initiative designed to deny gays their civil rights. Although the measure was defeated by 53-47%, the movie shows just how close the state came to adopting a law that would have discriminated against one whole segment of the population. The filmmakers interview people on both sides of the controversial issue, including members of the gay community and Lon Mabon, the man who sponsored the proposal.

Manufacturing Consent - Noam Chomsky and the Media (1994)Manufacturing Consent - Noam Chomsky and the Media (1994)'s review:
Peter Wintonick and Mark Achbar made this penetrating documentary about the career and views of linguist and media critic Noam Chomsky. While the man is the subject of the movie, the filmmakers wisely and carefully choose not to make Chomsky more important than his insights into the way print and electronic journalism tacitly and often willingly further the agendas of the powerful. We learn a lot about Chomsky's formative experiences as a child, student, academic, activist, and politician (he has campaigned for office), but we learn just as much about the media institutions that deny him access today, from ABC to PBS. The centerpiece of the film, arguably, is a long examination into the history of the New York Times' coverage of Indonesia's atrocity-ridden occupation of East Timor, reportage that (as Chomsky shows us) was absolutely in lock step with the government's unwillingness to criticize an ally. --Tom Keogh

Mark Twain's America (1960)Mark Twain's America (1960)

Narrated by playwright Howard Lindsay, this is a compelling portrait of the life of Mark Twain and his prolific writing career, mirroring America's rise to prominence in the late 19th century. From NBC News' "Project Twenty" series.

Mark Twain: His Amazing Adventure (1998)Mark Twain: His Amazing Adventure (1998)

From A&E's award-winning Biography series, the story of the greatest satirist America has ever known.
He was a great American original, a gifted and irreverent storyteller whose portrayal of a wild young nation captured the imagination of the world. On the trails of the Wild West, the streets of New York, and in the shore towns of his beloved Mississippi River, Mark Twain lived out the greatest adventures of nineteenth-century America. His captivating novels and stories and piercing social commentary earned him worldwide fame. Revisit the jam-packed life of this literary giant--from his carefree boyhood in Hannibal, Missouri to the devastating tragedies of his later life. Rare photographs, expert interviews, and excerpts from the stories that made him a legend bring his astonishing story to life. Explore the life and legacy of the man whose work gave American literature its voice: the extraordinary Mark Twain.

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