Lee and Grant
by Amber Burnham
Now available on DVD from A&E Networks Home Entertainment.
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Lee and Grant is a 94 minute documentary from the History chronically the lives of Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee. The documentary starts by discussing the early lives of both men and the circumstances that led up to them becoming the leaders of opposing sides in the Civil War. The documentary then chronicles the situations, battles, and outcomes of their decisions during the Civil War. Briefly touching on their lives after the Civil War ended.
Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee have been hailed as two of the most iconic leaders of the Civil War. Throughout this documentary, the men were shown not only as innovative and risky Generals but as men. They had families, doubts, fears, dreams, and ambitions that all affected the way in which they commanded their armies during the battles. The writing does not give the information in a way that made you feel that there were any excuses being made for the men, but just the facts of their lives up till the War and how it may have affected the way in which they viewed their situations. Lee came from a background of important and wealthy people, with two of his ancestors signing the Deceleration of Independence. Unfortunately, by the time Lee was born, all the money was gone but his family was still seen as important people. On the other side of the coin, Grant came from a family that had a quiet rural life. Both men ended up studying at West Point several years apart from each other. From here they both had varied careers in the United States Army, meeting once in Mexico City after the War with Mexico, although only Grant remembers this meeting.
Lee and Grant is a beautifully constructed documentary. It uses a combination of reenactments, commentary from knowledge historians as well as two direct descendants of Lee and Grant, original photographs and documents, computer animation and visual affects to accompany the narration. The outcome of the use of these varied affects was a documentary that was exciting to watch. The visuals assisted in the information being given by the narration. At the same time the narration, given by Jonathon Frakes (Star Trek: The Next Generation), was unbiased and exciting. You never felt as if he or the writer had taken sides, yet when discussing the battles and outcomes, the narration was read in a way that really helped you to feel the emotions of the people who would have been involved.
Lee and Grant originally aired on History to mark the 150th anniversary of the Civil War. If you are interested in learning more about two important men in our history, this is a documentary worth watching. It is well written, narrated, and visually constructed. Not only is the documentary fun to watch, you will walk away having learned not only about the Generals but also about the Civil War and how it affected the men and vice versa.
Amber Burnham has a BA in Early Childhood Education from Kendall College. She is also a regular panelist on Kichicast, the all-girl, Chicago-based podcast devoted to anime, manga, and Japanese culture. You can listen to Kichicast at kichigi.com.
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