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|Secrets of the Dead (Cannibalism in the Canyon/What Happened To The Hindenburg?/The Lost Vikings/Catastrophe!) [VHS]
Lowest new price: $62.00
Lowest used price: $24.00
List price: $59.98
Why did the great airship Hindenburg explode? Why did Greenland's Vikings disappear? What happened to the peaceful ancient Pueblo civilization of the American southwest? Did a cataclysmic event plunge humankind into the period known as the early Dark Ages?
This boxed set from PBS Home Video presents four very different stories that have a common thread: They detail mysterious happenings that can now be explained thoroughly by clever investigators who diligently employ tools of modern science. The mystery behind a thriving colony of Vikings on the coast of Greenland, thousands of people who simply vanished sometime in the 1400s, is plausibly explained in a documentary in which archaeologists find tiny clues that tell a big story of a society's demise. In another documentary, a controversial theory about ancient people practicing cannibalism in what is now New Mexico is examined thoughtfully, as are the ethical implications of scientists advancing such damning claims. The fiery demise of the airship Hindenburg, immortalized in famous newsreel footage, is seen, after some careful investigation, to have been caused by something few had ever before considered. And in a fascinating documentary that involves research into sources as diverse as ancient manuscripts and a rumbling volcano, the idea that the Earth was suddenly cooled by a bizarre and massive event about A.D. 530 is examined in great detail. Each separate tape is well produced and tackles a fascinating subject, and together they combine to provide a fascinating look at the scientific process. --Robert J. McNamara
|The Century-America's Time (Boxed Set) [VHS]
Lowest new price: $34.90
Lowest used price: $8.42
List price: $74.99
Covering the entire 20th century in one video series is an ambitious project, but one that Peter Jennings and ABC News are up to. In The Century: America's Time, a 12-part documentary on six videotapes that is a companion to the book of the same name, Jennings guides us through a century of technology and advancement like no other. As he says in his introduction to episode 1, "Seeds of Change," "Unlike previous centuries where leadership was defined by royalty and other rulers, the 20th century more than any other was shaped by the will and actions of the common man." The series is a sweeping presentation of the United States of the 1900s and tries to encompass a mind-boggling amount of history. And while at moments the videos may leave you longing for more, Jennings does an excellent job of creating smooth segues between disparate pieces.
The first episode, for instance, begins with the influx of immigrants at the turn of the century and touches on Jim Crow laws, moving pictures, planes, Henry Ford, the sinking of the USS Maine, child labor, suffragettes, the Panama Canal, imperialism, and more, right up to the beginning of World War I. The archival footage is stunning and interviews with historians, veterans, journalists, POWs, politicians, authors, celebrities, and common people help bring the past to life again. Mickey Spillane discusses the speakeasies of the 1920s; Dennis Hopper talks about Easy Rider in the '60s; Tom Wolfe reads from The Bonfire of the Vanities for the episode on the '80s. Eudora Welty, E.L. Doctorow, Martin Scorsese, John Updike, Pat Buchanan, Oliver Stone, Stephen E. Ambrose, among many others, lend their voices to this documentary. Yet, despite the great names, at times the pictures and people are allowed to speak for themselves, without intrusive narration--the stark images of the Challenger explosion or the sad words of a political activist mourning the death of his partner to AIDS are more powerful because of it. This chronological tale (with the exception of the last episode, "Then and Now," which is arranged thematically) is an insightful and poignant reminder of all the marvels--and tragedies--of America in the 20th century. --Jenny Brown
|Survivors of the Holocaust [VHS]
Lowest new price: $7.96
Lowest used price: $1.99
List price: $19.98
The Survivors of the Shoah (Hebrew for Holocaust) Foundation grew out of Steven Spielberg's research for his film Schindler's List. He interviewed many survivors of the Holocaust and found that, despite their similar experiences, each had a unique story to tell. In order to preserve these memories for future generations so that the horrors of Nazi Europe might never be forgotten, Spielberg created the foundation, whose mission involves taping interviews with the remaining survivors. Survivors of the Holocaust provides just the briefest glimpse of the many stories the foundation has collected. The video is broken into thirds by year, so we learn of life before the Holocaust, during internment in concentration camps, and after liberation. The testimonies are powerful, and at times overwhelming. The photos and film clips are frequently horrifying and may be too much for younger viewers. The video opens with a brief presentation, hosted by Ben Kingsley, about the foundation itself. This is the weakest part of the video--at points it seems to serve simply as a reminder of how wonderful Spielberg is for his involvement in this effort--but don't let it deter you . No matter how much you may have seen or read about the Holocaust, the interviews will affect you tremendously. A powerful, powerful experience. --Jenny Brown
|From Star Wars to Jedi: The Making of a Saga [VHS]
Lowest new price: $19.95
Lowest used price: $2.64
List price: $9.98
A comprehensive look at how George Lucas started out, the financial difficulties he had getting the movies made and how the technology he created literally changed the movie industry. It also has some great footage of the original screentests with the actors.
|Magic Memories on Ice III: An Unforgettable Season [VHS]
Lowest new price: $29.95
Lowest used price: $2.64
List price: $12.98
An unforgettable season unfolds at the 1996 US, European and World Figure Skating Championships as shining stars return to defend their places at the pinnacle of the sport and relative unknowns chase their one moment of glory.
Will Nicole Bobek defend her title at the US Championships? An ankle injury forces her to exit the ice in tears, keeping the dream alive for Michelle Kwan, Tara Lipinski and Tonia Kwiatkowski. At the European Championships, Irina Slutskaya tries to win the first Ladies' European title for Russia. In the Men's Competition, Ukrainian Viacheslav Zagorodniuk overcomes his personal and competitive struggles. 1996 marks the 100th anniversary of the World Championships. Canada has hopes for its own - World champion Elvis Stojko, but Todd Eldredge preforms brilliantly. The climax is the Ladies' Competition. Is Michelle Kwan up to the challenge from the reigning World Champion, China's Chen Lu? Theirs are two of the most memorable performances of all time.
|Marcel Duchamp: In His Own Words [VHS]
Lowest used price: $40.00
List price: $19.95
In recordings made in 1968 in Cadaques, Spain, shortly before his death, Duchamp discusses his work, jokes and reminisces.
|National Geographic's Wild Survivors: Camouflage & Mimicry [VHS]
Lowest new price: $641.22
Lowest used price: $39.99
List price: $19.98
Brand: Nat'l Geographic Vid
Discover the wondrous array of defenses and deceptions deployed by creatures in the wild! Over millions of years, animals have evolved an enormous range of techniques using colors, patterns, and mimicry as defense tactics and aggressive weapons in their continuing battle to survive. Join National Geographic to see these techniques in action. You'll uncover ptarmigans and praying mantises so well disguised they're almost impossible to find. Learn how the butterfly's beautiful colorations can save its life. Stand guard duty with African meerkats against predators. Discover the sophisticated prey detection systems of rattlesnakes and bats. And witness the last-ditch defenses of a spotted skunk cornered by a mountain lion and a Thompson's gazelle attempting to rescue her young from jackals. You'll have a ringside seat for the contests that determine the "survival of the fittest" - struggles won by the WILD SURVIVORS.
|The Cater Street Hangman [VHS]
Lowest used price: $37.94
List price: $29.95
In the class-conscious world of Victorian England, the Ellison family is painfully aware of their respectable place in the comfortable London neighborhood of Cater Street. But when a young woman is garroted nearby, it is the beginning of a remarkable sequence of events that will see their world shattered. At first, the Ellisons dismiss the murder as the result of the victim's impropriety after all, a real lady simply couldn't be the victim of such a tragedy. But when the killer strikes again, he takes the life of the Ellison's maid, and a gruff, no-nonsense police inspector with no care for anything but solving the crime comes calling. Inspector Pitt makes it clear that no one is above suspicion, and though some in the family object strenuously to a man of his position asking questions, their answers suggest that not all is being revealed. And when Pitt and one of the Ellison daughters start to fall for each other, a complicated case gets even stickier? Based on Anne Perry's critically acclaimed novel of the same name, the first in a series of Charlotte and Thomas Pitt mysteries.
|The Farm: Life Inside Angola Prison [VHS]
Lowest used price: $11.88
List price: $24.95
Winner of the Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury prize and the New York and Los Angeles Film Critics Award for Best Documentary of ‘98, THE FARM is a graphic, painfully real documentary, following six inmates at America’s most notorious prison.
Angola Prison in Louisiana is the biggest maximum security prison in the country. This is where the most dangerous criminals go and where parole hearings are a mere formality. A startling 85 percent of all inmates die inside. A small video crew was given unprecedented access to the inmates, of which six were chosen from 5,000 to give a portrait of life in the facility, also known as "the Farm." Two of the men continue the fight to prove their innocence. Two veterans have found redemption in personal transformations, one man as a prison activist, the other as a preacher. Two men prepare for death--one faces execution, the other is being eaten away by cancer. It's unlikely any of them will emerge from prison alive.
What begins as a traditional documentary transforms into an investigation of the human spirit, of hope in the face of hopelessness. We see the parole board pass judgment before the applicant even makes his case and make their decision before the door has closed behind him. Yet this is not so much a work of investigative journalism as a cultural study. What the viewer comes away with is a glimpse into an almost surreal atmosphere best defined by an incongruously chipper clown who wanders the halls on Christmas Eve to cheer up the prisoners in isolation. On the surface this seems like a well-integrated, safe, supportive environment, but under the surface of normalcy is a mix of doom and hope. --Sean Axmaker
|Hollywood: A Celebration of the American Silent Film - Comedy a Serious Business [VHS]
Lowest new price: $19.11
Lowest used price: $24.25
List price: $9.98
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