11/18/2017  
Take Me To The River on Blu-ray & DVD Feb 5Phantom From 10,000 Leagues (1956) on Blu-ray & DVD Jan 5Condemned on DVD & Blu-ray Jan 5Broad City: Season 2 on DVD Jan 5McHale's Navy: The Complete Series on DVD No 17Return to Sender on Blu-ray & DVD Sep 29The Phantom of the Opera with Lon Chaney Blu-ray & DVD Oct 13

follow us on twitter

dOc on facebook

NE News Editor

Jennifer Esposito Is Your Newest NCIS Agent in Season 1...
Critics Are Split on Ghostbusters Reboot ...
'Respect is key': The Game, Snoop Dogg lead march to LA...
Kristen Stewart's Sheer Dress At 'Equals' Premiere -- S...
"A Slow Slipping Away"-- Kris Kristofferson's Long-Undi...
Fox News' Roger Ailes Sued for Sexual Harassment by Ous...
Garrison Keillor Retires from 'Prairie Home Companion' ...
Jennifer Aniston is Pregnant: Star Steps Out in Loose D...
Hiddleswift Is One Big Song Promotion -- A Theory...
Elvis Presley's daughter Lisa Marie Presley files for ...





Microsoft Store

Share: email   Print      Technorati.gif   StumbleUpon.gif   MySpace   digg.gif delicious.gif   google.gif   magnolia.gif   facebook.gif
Permalink: Permalink.gif



Buy from Amazon

Buy from Amazon.com

PBS Home Video presents
Benjamin Franklin (2002)

"Understanding Franklin's soul is sort of understanding the soul of America."
- Franklin biographer Walter Isaacson

Review By: Jon Danziger  
Published: January 23, 2006

Stars: Richard Easton, Dylan Baker
Other Stars: Gary Nash, Edmund Morgan, Gordon Wood, Colm Feore
Director: Ellen Hovde, Muffie Meyer

MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Run Time: 03h:14m:50s
Release Date: January 24, 2006
UPC: 841887050333
Genre: documentary


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
A- A-BB C-

DVD Review

If you can, you should make it to the City of Brotherly Love some time soon—there's a party going on, because January 2006 marks the 300th anniversary of the birth of Philadelphia's favorite son, Benjamin Franklin. (Happy birthday, Ben!) It's a fair bet that the re-release on DVD of this documentary is pegged to that milestone, but whatever the date on the calendar, there's always something to be gained by revisiting the life of perhaps the first great American. This thorough look at Franklin's life is a useful primer for the man and his times, both of which were extraordinary.

This three-part documentary includes interviews with some of the foremost historians on colonial America—among them are Edmund Morgan, of Yale, and Gordon Wood, of Brown—a narration track read by Colm Feore, and actors decked out in full eighteenth-century trimmings, reading from the writings of the relevant historical figures. I'm not a big fan of historical re-creations in documentaries—they tend either to be misleading or to look like awful Independence Day parade tableaux—but the filmmakers wisely chose to have the actors speak only to the camera, and not to one another. You can appreciate their predicament—there are only so many times, over the course of more than three hours, that you'll want to dolly in on or out from the limited number of contemporary portraits of Franklin. Dylan Baker reads the words of Franklin as a younger man, though Richard Easton, as the iconic Franklin, gets much more screen time. There are also mute re-creations of period street scenes, which add to the visual interest.

Part One, Let The Experiment Be Made, takes us through better than half of Franklin's 84 years. Born in 1706 in Boston, Franklin was a boy of prodigious intelligence from a family of modest means. He was apprenticed to his brother James, a printer, though Ben chafed at the restraints of his position, and soon ran away—first to London for a spell, and then to the city he would take up as his home, Philadelphia. Franklin was born just fifteen years after the Salem witch trials, and he more than anyone brought about an age of enlightenment in the colonies—it was his invention of a lightning rod, for instance, that dispelled the popular belief that homes struck and burned down by lightning were evidence of God's punishment. We see Ben establish his own print shop, and begin publishing his wildly popular Poor Richard's Almanac; taking the lovely Deborah as his wife; and unlocking the mysteries of electricity, not only with the famous kite and key, but also by electrifying a turkey. His insistence on what we would recognize as modern scientific method—hypothesis, experimentation, re-evaluation—distinguished him from the slipshod, would-be scientists of his time.

Part Two documents The Making of a Revolutionary—now a celebrity, Franklin discovers the fringe benefit of attention from young women. (It's never clearly established if Franklin was a womanizer, or merely a flirt.) He was dispatched to London, and among his friends were the brightest minds of the time, including James Watt and David Hume; his son William became, through his father's influence, the royal governor of New Jersey. Franklin takes the lead in getting the Stamp Act repealed, and in doing so becomes the de facto spokesman for the upstart colonies.

Part Three, The Chess Master, focuses on Franklin's years in Paris. Shortly after the American Revolution began, Franklin was dispatched as the new country's emissary to France, his mission to get support, both military and financial, for the war. His critics charged that he took too much to the pleasures of the pre-revolutionary French aristocracy; John Adams was particularly withering in his criticism, but it was Franklin who was successful in enlisting aid from the French. His last mission in Europe was to participate in the negotiation of the Treaty of Paris, ensuring American independence—he then returned home a hero, and became the only Founding Father to take up the cause of abolition. In his last years, he was the wise old man of the Constitutional Convention, and died peacefully, ancient for his time, beloved by all. The whole project is informed with a deep affection for Franklin, and even if it's been a while since you've taken American history, this is a fine way to pay your respects.

Rating for Style: A-
Rating for Substance: A-

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: Well transferred, with only a modest amount of scratching.

Image Transfer Grade: B

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishno


Audio Transfer Review: Adequately transferred, with a few instances of buzzing.

Audio Transfer Grade: B

 

Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 18 cues and remote access
7 Deleted Scenes
1 Featurette(s)
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extras Review: A making-of featurette (03m:53s) focuses on the film crew's location shooting in Lithuania, their best available option for eighteenth-century urban exteriors. The seven deleted scenes (10m:23s in all) are additional snippets of Easton reading from Franklin's writing—the most notable is Franklin's famous dictum on the inevitability of death and taxes.

Extras Grade: C-

 

Final Comments

Resolutely American and, in the best sense, a Renaissance man, Franklin is treated with the respect and affection he earned in his lifetime, and down through the centuries. Besides, he's a far better ambassador for his hometown than Terrell Owens, even if Ben never answered the most crucial question for a Philadelphian: Cheez Whiz, or provolone?

 


Back to top

Search 10,000+ titles:

or Advanced Search

DVD REVIEW ARCHIVE


Get FREE Shipping on all orders at TimeLife.com! - 120x90

 



Microsoft Store

Keywords

television, jennifer esposito, blue bloods, ncis, mark harmon. duane henry, wilmer valderrama, michael weatherly, bull, movie, ghostbusters, comedy, chris helmsworth, melissa mcarthy, kristen wiig, celebrity, rap, game, shoop dogg, jayceon terrell taylor, alton sterling, kristen stewart, equals, jonathan simkhal, nicholas hoult, music, kris kristofferson, country music hall of fame, alzheimers, lyme disease, fox news, gretchen carlson, fox and friends, steve doocy, roger ailes, the real story with gretchen carlson, radio, garrison keillor, a prairie home companion, jennifer anniston, baby bump, justin theroux, taylor swift, tom hiddleston, calvin harris, lisa marie presley, michael lockwood, riley and benjamin keough, danny keough, michael jackson, nicolas cage, tom affleck, boston fan, bill simmons, hbo show, any given wednesday, tom brady, deflategate, hamilton, lin-manuel mianda, periscope, heart tweet machine, hamilton mixtape, cable, hbo, curb your enthusiasm, larry david, bernie sanders, saturday night live, maya and marty, christina grimmie, murdered, plaza live, before you exit, marcus grimmie, nashville, cmt, president brian phillips, the tonight show, jimmy fallon, president obama, the roots, hillary clinton, tim mcgraw, faith hill, maggie mcgraw, humble and kind, ellen degeneres show, titi pierce, coldwell banker robbins & free realty, hairspray live!, tracy turnblad, york theatre company, john waters, jennifer hudson, harvey fierstein, martin short, derek hough, j.k. rowling, harry potter and the cursed child, noma dumezweni, emma watson, judd apatow, paul freig, melissa mccarthy, romance, history channel, roots, remake, anika noni rose, t.i., malachi kirby, josh duhamel, transformers, fergie, black eyed peas, axl, double dutchess, abc, music city, grand ole opry, chip esten, lennon stella, the voice, alisan porterm, christina aguilera, ceelo green, ariana grande, sia, the little big town, 2016 billboard music awards, pink, just like fire, pamela neal, warrior princess, send my love (to your new lover), billboard music awards, adele, patrick daughters, bryan cranston, lbj, all the way, melissa leo, frank langella, todd weeks, hard sell, kristin chenoweth, wicked

On Facebook!
digitallyOBSESSED!
digitallyOBSESSED!
Promote Your Page Too

Visit:

Zarabesque.com

Original Magic Dress.com

Susti Heaven

Become a Reviewer | Search | Review Vault | Reviewers
Readers | Webmasters | Privacy | Contact
Microsoft Store