This is the second part of the two-part documentary "The American Experience" presented on Woodrow Wilson. The first portion went from his birth until early in his first administration when his wife died. This second portion picks up there, goes to WWI and finishes in the early 1920s when Wilson died from complications from a stroke.
Like all the other "American Experience" episodes, this was well made and consisted of narration, photos, recreations and interviews. It's all quite interesting and does a good job of putting across Wilson's weird idealism. I say weird because he took the US into the war that killed many men--yet he seemed convinced that he was a man of peace and the war was a moral endeavor. Sadly, it wasn't--and Wilson's complete abandonment of the Constitution (by suspending free speech and locking up folks with little evidence--just a suspicion that they were 'dangerous' to the war effort). The film did talk about this VERY briefly but you only get a tiny picture of this problem. Sure, they mention Eugene Debs going to prison but the film ignores all the others jailed just for exercising their rights to free speech as well as the Supreme Court's reaction to all this. Considering how the First Amendment is fundamental to Americans, this SHOULD have been explored in greater depth--as it is probably the biggest failing of Wilson's administration.
Another issue I had with the film, and this is because I am a retired history teacher, is that it gives a false impression of the sinking of the Lusitania. Evidence today clearly indicate that the ship was illegally exposing passengers to harm by using the ship to transport weapons. Recent dives have established this by bringing back bombs and the like--though in defense of the film, this discovery came just AFTER the show aired. So, they are not to blame because at the time there was some controversy as to whether or not it carried weapons. But I do blame the show for not mentioning this controversy, as this raged for many decades before the debate was finally settled a few years ago.
Now it sounds as if I hated the film--I did not. I just don't think it was as thorough and well made as their biographies on FDR, Nixon and other American leaders. Very good--but it could have been a bit better--and part one was, perhaps, a bit better made and factual.
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