American Experience (1988– )
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John Brown's Holy War 



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Episode credited cast:
Rene Auberjonois ... (voice)
Melendy Britt ... (voice)
Scott Cleverdon ... (voice)
Richard Doyle ... (voice)
Barry Shabaka Henley ... (voice)
Joe Morton ... Narrator (voice)
Harris Yulin ... (voice)


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Release Date:

28 February 2000 (USA) See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Robert Kenner Films, WGBH See more »
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User Reviews

Very thorough.
2 April 2012 | by MartinHaferSee all my reviews

I've seen a few other documentaries about John Brown as well as his raid on Harper's Ferry. Of all of them, this seems to be the best and most thorough of them. As usual, "The American Experience" does a fine job--with excellent narration (from Joe Morton), additional voice actors, recreations and photos/pictures. It tells of the entire life of Brown and chronicles his evolution from an ordinary guy to a rabid abolitionist--one who was willing to kill or even foment revolution to end this evil institution. In other words, he isn't just some crazy guy but a guy who became, over time, obsessed and emboldened.

Overall this is a very good documentary. Interestingly, it seemed to be more 'pro-Brown' than many films I've seen. In other words, what he did was described in more positive ways--such as using the phrase 'holy war' to describe his actions and saying that his raid led directly to the Civil War (which I disagree with, but who am I to day). Some other films portray him more as a loony or zealot and that is all.

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