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America's Heart & Soul
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America's Heart & Soul More at IMDbPro »

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18 out of 22 people found the following review useful:

The fools who call this movie "JINGOISTIC"

Author: GuyFleegman ( from California
3 July 2004

The dictionary defines "jingoistic" as:

"Extreme nationalism characterized especially by a belligerent foreign policy; chauvinistic patriotism"

There isn't one nationalist statement made in this entire movie. No one talks about "this great country of ours", or "aren't we blessed to live in the best gosh-darned place on the planet". It is simply snatches of moments showing the lives of various people around the country; some corn-ball, some silly, some serious. Yes, there are some "whitebread" people presented (as one reviewer described them), backwoods types who play the banjo, sing old songs, raise their families and don't hurt anyone. Oh yes, they must me mocked by oh so hip reviewers, how dare they be so simple and unaffected and so... so... "whitebread". There are working class people who work long hours at tough jobs (steel workers) who see their way of life fading away as their jobs are eliminated (along with health care benefits, noted by the father of a little girl with a recurring brain tumor). Yes, let's sneer at them, say the cynical reviewers, for they are only capitalist stooges and deserve what they get. Speaking of evil capitalists, Ben Cohen of "Ben & Jerry's" is profiled, who had the audacity to start a small business, see it become a national success, and gave back to the community and is an active founding member of Businesses for Social Responsibility, an organization that works to promote socially responsible business practices. Let's condemn him for daring to succeed, doesn't he know that America is a hopeless land of brainwashed drones who must mindlessly conform to the ever-present Big Brother? It must be, because the reviewers insist it is. A reviewer says that Black people are "almost absent" in this film. I guess he just doesn't like the Black people who are shown. We see an elderly Black female gospel singer who delights in sharing her love of God (oh oh!) in joyous song. We see an activist Black minister who devotes his life to making positive change in the community. We see a Black boxer who made mistakes early in his life, but now has turned his life around and is also helping those around them. We see Black street musicians in Louisiana, young and old, playing together on street corners, enjoying the freedom to just "hang out" and make music for themselves and others. Yes, all these Black people are shown, the simple deluded fools. How dare they live productive and happy lives! Don't they know America is a pit of hopeless despair and racism? It must be, because the reviewers stomp their feet and insist it is!

We see the successes, but we also see the failures; homeless people pushing shopping carts aimlessly down the street, the down and out in soup kitchens, the people wondering where the American dream failed them. In other words, we see America as it is, unsugarcoated, unsanitized, warts and all. And this is precisely what drives certain people crazy. The film is HONEST, and honesty flies in the face of agenda-driven politics and manipulative propaganda. If this was a "ra ra go America" film, you wouldn't see the failures. If Michael Moore had made this film, you wouldn't see the successes and day to day joys of the common people.

This film shows America not as a shining citadel on the mountain for all to marvel and envy, nor as a cesspool of corporate greed, political corruption and hopeless and despairing masses. It simply shows a place where one can strive, and by striving one can succeed OR fail, and if you fail you can pick yourself up and try again. Do some people have advantages others don't? Sure. Do some people seemingly have the decked stacked against them? You bet! Welcome to the human condition, this is nothing new in history nor unique to America. Nothing is guaranteed, and everything is possible. The script of your life isn't written until you yourself write it.

So I implore you to ignore the hand-wringers, the finger-waggers, they with the earnestly furrowed brows who insist the glass is perpetually half-empty.

go see this charming little film. Oh, and also go see FAHRENHEIT 9/11 too, because that's what makes this a pretty neat place to live: all opinions and points of view are permitted and eventually everybody's ox gets gored.

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15 out of 17 people found the following review useful:

Have you even seen this movie???

Author: generic_trait from United States
1 May 2005

Take the word America out of the title of this movie and you wouldn't have half of the criticisms of it. The reviews that I have read of it have obviously not come from people who have seen this movie, and rather from people who feel compelled to regurgitate what their political science teachers have taught them about this country as a review for a movie they haven't seen. I say this not because I disagree with the reviews (which I do) but because the main user comment on IMDb doesn't have one line that pertains to the content of the movie. Rather, it gives us a 5 paragraph style essay about the importance of balance in your views of this country. "You have to look at the good and the bad".

And by the way, jingoism pertains to an expression of nationalism in regards to a belligerent foreign policy. Thus a movie strictly about people in a specific country could not be jingoistic unless those people were saying "WE WILL CONQUER THE WORLD!!!" So you could call the song "Let's Drop the Big One Now" by Randy Newman jingoistic, though I think it's supposed to be satirical, but this movie could not be. So stop using buzz words and concentrate on reality please.

If you had actually seen the movie you would realize that it could have been about people who live in Australia or Germany or on the fricken Moon! It's not about nationalism. In fact I did not hear one person say "America's the greatest country on earth and every other country is crap!".

It's simply an uplifting movie about people who enjoy life, and what obstacles they have overcome to achieve the level of happiness that they have grasped. None of them, not one, said anything nationalistic. But I have heard people say things like this "I've been broke, but I've never been poor." And I haven't seen any flag-waving. But I have seen a guy with severe cerebral palsy compete in a wheelchair race. I didn't see anything that made me happier to be an American, but I saw a lot of things that made me happy to be alive.

Overall it strikes me as a movie that Errol Morris (Mr. Death)or Chris Smith (American Movie) would have made before they sold out and decided to join ranks with Michael Moore and make their own versions of his movies.

And what I really liked about this movie was that it was a pure documentary. Meaning, that it didn't stretch reality, it merely presented a glimpse into these people's lives. It didn't give twisted statistics, or half truths. It did what a good documentary is supposed to do, show subjects in their environment and let them tell their story. through their actions and words.

I feel so sad for the people who approach this movie with the hatred that I have seen displayed on this board. It is simply indicative of a greater pessimism, not just towards America, but towards life in general. My advice to anyone who is reproached as a "nationalist" for liking this movie is this, ask the person who is admonishing you whether they have seen it or not. My guess is that the vast majority of the people on this site have not. Otherwise they would reserve their bile for a movie that actually does express a "jingoistic" (you fricken idiots) attitude towards America, if they can find one.

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15 out of 18 people found the following review useful:

I'm stunned at the cynics

Author: vkayro from United States
1 July 2005

I just watched this documentary on HBO and was so touched by it, I came to IMDb and was shocked at the lambasting it was taking from some. I, myself, am a die-hard liberal who has no love for our current President. I knew nothing about this film before watching it, so I certainly was not viewing it with politics in mind. I found it quite uplifting and if anything, it made me all the more determined to stand up to the powers in office to protect the wonderful possibilities that this country offers. Yes, I did see some lack of diversity in that I noticed few of the stories focused on women (3) and there were no gays represented at all, but I did see flashes of our best and our worst. It saddens me that some people can't just sit back and enjoy seeing what's beautiful in the world without feeling like they are being brainwashed. After all, aren't the good things in this world exactly what we are fighting for?

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11 out of 14 people found the following review useful:

A Stunning Celebration of America

Author: tigger_68 from United States
12 June 2005

This is a visually stunning and emotionally moving tribute to the everyday people that make America great. Unlike those films that live to tell us how horrible things are, this one shows the faith, love and determination that make this nation.

While some chose to focus on celebrity, this shows everyday people. From a farmer and his son in Vermont to a father and his disabled son who run the Boston Marathon, it is a heartwarming view of good and decent people.

The cinematography is breathtaking and the director made the wonderful choice to not have a narrator, referring to allow the people to tell their own stories.

I've noticed many find this to be bad because they see it as somehow patriotic (I guess for some people that is a bad thing). Many also blast it for being a pro-Bush or post 9/11 rally film.

Perhaps they failed to listen to the audio commentary by the filmmaker who points out that most of this was filmed BEFORE 9/11. Indeed he has been working on it for 20 years, so a good portion of it was made during the CLINTON years. Perhaps it's OK if it supports him ?

Nor do they take into account the fact that, from what I've been able to find out on the net, the filmmaker is actually a Democrat who did not support Bush in 2004.

I won't go into the debate over diversity in the film since many have already pointed out that the film is quite diverse.

I think this film taps into the real divide in America today. Most people in the United States love this country, regardless of whether they are liberal or conservative. They may dislike policies or leaders, but they love the country.

A small group simply hates America. To they all is bad, nothing is good, and any optimism or positive thought is wrong.

That angry elite may find this beneath their standards, but for most of us it is a wonderful 90 minutes.

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8 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

A glowing film about the best of American life.

Author: marc-262 from San Diego, CA
26 May 2004

America's Heart and Soul is one of the first documentaries to emerge from Disney in many years. It is easy to see why they selected this project for distribution -- it is upbeat, beautifully shot, and filled with enough stock quirky American characters to provide a counterpoint to the otherwise dramatic material. The film shares some features with the 360-degree surround films that have been a staple in the Disney theme parks -- the scenes are short vignettes featuring the lives of ordinary (and not so ordinary) Americans interspersed with soaring aerial shots of America's golden landscape.

Especially noteworthy are the stories of Michael Bennett, a convict turned Olympian; Erik Weihenmayer, a blind mountain climber; and Rick and Dick Hoyt, a father/son marathon team (Rick is paraplegic). Humor is provided by Paul Stone, and "artist" whose medium is explosives, and the folks at the Art Car Festival. But for sheer beauty it is hard to beat the segment on the Bandaloop Cliff Dancers.

Part biography, part travelogue, this film is not a documentary about American life as it is -- the gritty side of our nation is conspicuously absent. Instead it is a glowing portrait of what we deem best -- freedom (including the freedom to be incredibly silly), family, cultural diversity, caring, and determination. It's not a reality-check, it is a glorious vision. And, despite what some snootier critics might think, that's not always a bad thing. America's Heart and Soul is a great family film for anyone looking to see what's good and beautiful about America.

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4 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Bravo - We loved, America's Heart and Soul!

Author: ( from United States
4 January 2006

We are so tired of all the biting rhetoric about "what is wrong about America" - Inane comments like, "No Wonder Terrorists Hate us!". We are tired of movies that stopped trying to say "anything good" about America anymore... Louis Swartzberg seemed to have captured some of our resilient SPIRIT, perhaps chapter ONE in more good things to come from him. There is so much diversity, talent and brave souls who challenge everyday life when sometimes it's more than enough to just "get up out of bed" let alone, conquer Mount Everest when you are "blind". The music, ( we turned on our Surround Sound) the Cinematography that was out of this World, offered us one of the best nights on TV - and it was further unspoiled by Commercials!! Bravo Disney - thank you, thank you!

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5 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

This should be rated higher...

Author: danzaroni from United States
1 June 2006

IMDb voters gave this a movie a 4.3 out of 10. Looking at the breakdown, you'll see that a majority of voters gave it a "1" - my guess is that very few of these voters actually saw the movie. The second largest group gave it a 10.

The movie skates across the country, interviewing dozens of average people doing the mundane and the marvelous. We meet a 70-year old oil field firefighter, a coal miner, a bicycle messenger, a vineyard owner... and so on. The cinematography is at times sumptuous and breathtaking with a great music track. The movie moves. It never gets boring and is almost always inspirational.

This movie remains on my TIVO and I watch it frequently.It is a celebration of freedom and individuality. It may be titled "America's Heart and Soul" - but it could have been titled "Humankind's Heart and Soul" because it's a celebration of what's great about all of us - wherever we live.

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5 out of 6 people found the following review useful:


Author: pied from Ohio
5 November 2005

The greatness of America is her people. This documentary took me out of my neighborhood and town and made me realize the true diversity and greatness of America.

We see one of the last of the cowboys out West, a family of New Orleans magicians, a Vermont dairy farmer, Latino immigrants and so much more.

Every one of the subjects in this documentary demonstrates hope. These people are true Americans with the spirit of perseverance. What I found most refreshing was the way they all loved what they were doing.

As a high school special education teacher, I plan to show this film to my students.

"America's Heart and Soul" is completely non-political and enjoyable.

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5 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

If you don't love the people in this AHS u have NO SOUL.

Author: BluestStars from United States
11 July 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

So nice to see a sweet, heartfelt and genuine piece of work.

All of the negative reviews from demented lefties on IMDb shows once again that far left liberals DON'T want other Americans to be HAPPY.

They don't CARE about others happiness.

This piece of work documents simple down to earth salt of the earth Americans.

This movie says NOTHING about politics, yet to leftist sensibilities, the people in this movie should be reviled because they love their life, liberty and country.

The anger displayed by many of the miscreant reviewers of this film says more about them than it does about the actual film.

The film is splendid and I plan to get a DVD copy to show my future children some day.

I'm sorry so many of you have a problem with wholesome living in the heartland of America.

I live in NYC and I can appreciate how others live in my country.

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4 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Finally! A Postitive Reflection of America!

Author: Darcyduck from America
15 June 2004

Thank you Louis Shwartzberg! Finally, in a time where America is so divided, you have created a masterpiece that focuses on the beauty of America and why it's so GREAT! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

And a BIG THANK YOU to Disney for releasing it! This movie has been a breathe of fresh air!

America's Heart & Soul is a "MUST SEE" summer film for you and your family. This inspiring film will take you on an incredible journey through America's heartland. You will meet some ordinary and extraordinary people along the way.

This film is guaranteed to touch your heart!

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