Prohibition (2011)

TV Mini-Series  -  Documentary | History
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The story of the American activist struggle against the influence of alcohol, climaxing in the failed early 20th century nationwide era when it was banned.

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2011  
Won 1 Primetime Emmy. Another 3 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Series cast summary:
...
 Himself - Narrator (3 episodes, 2011)
Pete Hamill ...
 Himself - Writer (3 episodes, 2011)
Catherine Gilbert Murdock ...
 Herself - Historian (3 episodes, 2011)
Michael Lerner ...
 Himself - Historian (3 episodes, 2011)
...
 Himself - Writer (3 episodes, 2011)
Noah Feldman ...
 Himself - Legal Scholar (3 episodes, 2011)
Jack Roche ...
 Himself - Resident of Chicago (3 episodes, 2011)
William Leuchtenburg ...
 Himself - Historian (3 episodes, 2011)
...
 Reader / ... (3 episodes, 2011)
...
 Reader / ... (3 episodes, 2011)
...
 Reader (3 episodes, 2011)
...
 Reader (3 episodes, 2011)
John Paul Stevens ...
 Himself - Resident of Chicago (2 episodes, 2011)
Jonathan Eig ...
 Himself - Writer (2 episodes, 2011)
Margot Loines Wilkie ...
 Herself - Resident of Massachusetts (2 episodes, 2011)
Martin Marty ...
 Himself - Theologian (2 episodes, 2011)
Jack Clarke ...
 Himself - Resident of Chicago (2 episodes, 2011)
Ruth Proskauer Smith ...
 Herself - Resident of New York (2 episodes, 2011)
Edwin T. Hunt Jr. ...
 Himself - Resident of Seattle / ... (2 episodes, 2011)
Joshua Zeitz ...
 Himself - Historian (2 episodes, 2011)
...
 Reader (2 episodes, 2011)
Kevin Conway ...
 Reader (2 episodes, 2011)
...
 Reader (2 episodes, 2011)
...
 Reader (2 episodes, 2011)
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Storyline

Throughout American history, heavy alcohol consumption has been a pervasive part of its national social character. However in the 1800s, a growing Temperance movement arose determined to oppose the destructive habit by any means necessary. This series tells the story of this crusade until it achieved its ultimate goal of passing the 18th Amendment of the US Constitution which imposed prohibition. After that victory, the series covers this social reform's disastrous unintended consequences that encouraged clandestine drinking and organized crime while undermining civil liberties and society's respect for the law in ways that still reverberate today. Written by Kenneth Chisholm (kchishol@rogers.com)

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How did a nation founded on rights ever go so wrong?


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2 October 2011 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Förbudstiden i USA  »

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16:9 HD
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Featured in CBS 11 News: Episode dated 17 August 2011 (2011) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Fun, smart, well made and educational - but not as deep as some of Burns' work
26 November 2014 | by (US) – See all my reviews

Any Ken Burns documentary is going to be smart, well made and educational. This one is also fun (in the plus column), but lacks the emotion, ambition and power of his very best work, like "The Civil War" or "The Central Park Five".

Made with a ton of great movie footage and stills, and lots of tid-bits about the history of drinking in America -- it's out of control pervasiveness among men, especially working class men, that led to the push for prohibition that puts the now ridiculous seeming constitutional amendment in a somewhat more understandable light. That in turn explains the odd confluence of its backers, from religious conservatives, to well meaning social progressives looking to save the poor from themselves, to blue-blood WASPS who hated working class immigrants who drank more openly, to women fighting for the right to vote, and who saw how often alcohol contributed to domestic violence.

The film also does a great job in showing how a law that tens of millions of Americans will simply ignore is much worse than no law at all, as it sows the seeds of disregard and contempt for the law, as well creating a fertile ground for criminals to give people what they want in a black market. Much the same arguments are going on right now about other "vice" laws, from marijuana, to prostitution, to proposed laws on fatty and sugary foods.

One of the central questions of any democracy is how much and where does the government have a right to intrude into people's lives for the greater good. It's an important and complicated question, and one the series does a good job of raising.

But at over 5 hours it starts to run a little thin, and the points and stories start to get a bit repetitive. I'm glad I saw it, and enjoyed myself quite a bit, but unlike many documentaries by Burns (and his equally talented brother Ric), I don't think I'll feel a need to re-watch it anytime soon.


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Paralells to drug-prohibition Torgeir-6
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