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A&E Home Video presents
The Statue of Liberty (1994-5)

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me:
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.

- Emma Lazarus, while on Joseph Pulitzer's payroll

Review By: Jon Danziger   
Published: March 02, 2004

Stars: Jack Perkins
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Run Time: 00h:47m:04s
Release Date: February 24, 2004
UPC: 733961712537
Genre: documentary

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
C+ B-B-C+ C

DVD Review

Lady Liberty gets the once-over in this informative if fairly cursory documentary originally produced for The History Channel, in 1994. The omnipresent Jack Perkins narrates the tale, familiar from grade school—French sculptor Auguste Bartholdi convinced his countrymen that a grand gift on the occasion of the American centennial would be in order, and Bartholdi proposed this colossus of the New World. (It would arrive ten years later, in 1886. Better late than never.) The film feels like social studies class more than anything, though it does have some interesting tidbits—Bartholdi used his mother's face as the model for the Statue of Liberty's, for instance, and the original idea was to fill up the statue with bags of sand, to keep it from blowing over. When that scheme proved unwieldy, Bartholdi and his colleagues enlisted the help of Gustav Eiffel, the noted structural engineer more famous for his work and eponymous tower in the French capital city than in the New York harbor.

It's the little things that count in a brief film like this, and you'll probably come away with the odd bit of historical detail. Emma Lazarus's famous poem, for instance (see the quote at the top of this review) was commissioned by newspaperman Joseph Pulitzer; the statue was conceived of, in many ways, as a slap in the face of Napoleon III, the French emperor. A couple of odd visual choices are employed, though, including what look like clips from Birth of a Nation to illustrate some early periods of American history, and bits of Charlie Chaplin films to stand in for the American immigrant experience. Obviously historical film footage wouldn't be available, but these two sources are so loaded with implications and inferences and their own historical contexts that they provide too many extraneous associations.

The story of the statue doesn't even pad out the full run of this, either—there's a detour over to Ellis Island, for a discussion of its history as the entry point for generations of American immigrants. Some time is given to the extensive restoration of the statue in the late 1980s, an opportunity to visit again with our old pals Lee Iacocca and Ronald Reagan; and there's a survey of over a century's worth of Statue of Liberty tchatchkes and endorsement deals, part of the history of the landmark from the very beginning. Our perspective brings deeper meaning to many of the location shots, too, for frequently in the background you can see the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center; they're little more than window dressing for the story being told here, but when they're on screen, it's impossible to look at or think about anything else.

Rating for Style: C+
Rating for Substance: B-


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: An adequate transfer, with some scratches and debris; it's overly contrasty and the new footage seems to have been shot on video, but the story gets told.

Image Transfer Grade: B-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishno

Audio Transfer Review: A little buzzy and hissy, but you'll still want to march around the room when you hear Stars and Stripes Forever.

Audio Transfer Grade: C+


Disc Extras

Animated menu with music
Scene Access with 8 cues and remote access
1 Featurette(s)
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. Statue of Liberty fun facts
Extras Review: A brief History Channel look (12m:17s) at Ellis Island, from its Save Our History series, covers much of the same ground as the feature; in fact, some of the narration is identical, word for word. Also on hand is a roster of facts on the great statue, with historical tidbits and dimensions about its size and weight. Memorize them and stump your friends for extra credit.

Extras Grade: C


Final Comments

A brief, informed if uninspired primer on one of the signature landmarks of our nation.


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