Rauol Peck’s documentary based on James Baldwin’s unfinished manuscript, Remember This House, about the lives of his friends, civil rights leaders Medgar Evans, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King, Jr. and their assassinations, will grab you with its powerful imagery and narration. Actor Samuel Jackson provides the voiceover narration pulled from Baldwin’s unfinished manuscript and passages taken from his other works. Old news reports, archival footage of Baldwin speaking, clips from classic movies, images of the civil rights movement and from the present accompany the narration. In I Am Not Your Negro, Peck has crafted a powerful, relevant examination of race in the United States from the civil rights movement to Black Lives Matter.
As England moves into the 1960s, Elizabeth comes into her own as queen. We saw this beginning to take form at the end of season 1 (read my review here or Katie’s take here), but after almost a decade and three prime ministers, she’s grown up quite a bit. Royal life is not without its troubles, though, and season two continues with the rocky marriage of Elizabeth and Philip, the scandals of Princess Margaret, and balancing her role as queen and her role as a woman. New conflicts arise with the threat of war in Egypt, public backlash against Elizabeth’s reign, plus the war between progress and tradition. Tune in to season two of The Crown on Netflix by checking out one of our rokus to see the Kennedys, a bad haircut, Matt Smith’s brilliant beard, and a whole lot of period drama.
For anyone obsessed with Britain's royal family (like me!), The Crown is a perfect blend of drama and actual history, creating a highly enjoyable television series. The first season of The Crown covers the years 1947-1955, which includes famous events such as Princess Elizabeth's marriage to Philip, King George VI's passing, and Queen Elizabeth's coronation. But there are also a fair amount of things I had no idea happened in England, like the Great Smog of 1952. I spent a lot of time after episodes doing research and now you don't have to; a companion book was released that documents the differences between series and true history. If you're waiting on the third royal baby to be born in April or Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's marriage in May, this is a fabulous way to pass the time! Watch season 1 of The Crown on DVD or borrow a Roku to stream it via Netflix. Stay tuned—next week, Jez reviews season 2.
Inspired by the book Jambusters by Julie Summers, this BBC TV show is set in rural Cheshire, in the village of Great Paxford. Home Fires showcases the Women's Institutes’ contribution in boosting morale on the home front during WWII. It’s the story of a group of inspirational women who are left to carry on during one of history's most trying times. We share their emotional struggles, their fear, their sorrows, and their determination to "carry on" no matter what.
The Pacific (2010) TV-MA This ten part HBO miniseries offers a realistic and horrifying view of World War II in the Pacific. The series is based on the memoirs of two marines who were there, Robert Leckie and Eugene Sledge, and the story of Congressional Medal of Honor winner Sgt. John Basilone. Some episodes are devoted almost entirely to specific battles: Guadalcanal, Peleliu, and Iwo Jima. Others show the marines on R&R in Australia, on medical leave, or in basic training. The producers (who include Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg) purposely used relatively unknown actors so that the viewer wouldn't be distracted by recognizing well-known stars showing up in cameos ala The Longest Day (1962). Check out the books that served as inspiration:
- Helmet for My Pillow (1957) by Robert Leckie
- With the Old Breed at Peleliu and Okinawa (1981) by Eugene Sledge
- The Pacific (2010) by Hugh Ambrose is the companion to the miniseries
God in America (2010) This six hour documentary looks at the settling of America, the Revolutionary War, the Civil War and Emancipation Proclamation, and the issue of religion and politics in America from a strictly religious history point of view. The Evangelical Protestant religion of many of the early settlers made them resentful of either church leaders or kings telling them what to do. Itinerant Methodist ministers traveling in the wilds west of the Appalachians made Methodism the fastest growing denomination in the US until the battle over slavery broke it into northern and southern denominations. The rights of Catholics and Jews to have their children free from Protestant religious training in public schools led to a greater separation of church and state. In postwar America, Billy Graham and his crusade against "Godless" communism made him the best known religious figure in America. These are just a few of the interesting takes on American history found in this program which was created by a cooperative effort of The American Experience and Frontline. For more information, visit the companion website.