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  • Simon Schama - Rough Crossings [DVD]
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Simon Schama - Rough Crossings [DVD]

10 customer reviews

Price: £7.80
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Frequently Bought Together

Simon Schama - Rough Crossings [DVD] + The Story of the Jews [DVD] + Simon Schama: A History of Britain - The Complete BBC Series [DVD]
Price For All Three: £30.46

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Product details

  • Actors: Simon Schama
  • Format: PAL
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9 - 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: 15
  • Studio: 2entertain
  • DVD Release Date: 30 July 2007
  • Run Time: 90 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000R343K8
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 94,608 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Reviews

Rough Crossings is the astonishing story of the struggle to freedom by thousands of African-American slaves who fled the plantations to fight behind British lines in the American War of Independence. With gripping, powerfully vivid story-telling, Simon Schama follows the escaped blacks into the fires of the war, and into freezing, inhospitable Nova Scotia where many who had served the Crown were betrayed in their promises to receive land at the war's end. Their fate became entwined with British abolitionists: inspirational figures such as Granville Sharp, the flute-playing father-figure of slave freedom, and John Clarkson, the 'Moses' of this great exodus, who accompanied the blacks on their final rough crossing to Africa, wher they hoped that freedom would finally greet them.

Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: DVD Verified Purchase
As much as I dislike the approach taken here, of history portrayed via reenactment (or for that matter of worthy fiction -- the Harry Potter movies were inevitable, but did this have to be?), it is very well done, and very effective in telling a story that few of us (Americans at least) heard in history classes. If you really can't read the book, which is truly great, then this is your next best option.

However, some of the historic messiness which makes the book great is lost in transition. I think it is too easy to conclude from the DVD that the abolitionist movement (and subsequent founding of Freetown) was driven almost entirely by Christian humanist zeal. That is certainly part of it, but so was finding an expedient, yet humanitarian, way to remove a population of unwanted former slaves who had fought with the British in the American Revolution from their subsequent exile to the streets of London, or to Nova Scotia.

And the DVD implies that once John Clarkson was removed from Freetown for attempting to do his job too well, the colony declined. As noble a character as Clarkson truly was, that's not quite how I remember the book. In spite of horrible management from the company in London, it seems that the new residents of Freetown were able to establish some positive connections with people of the coast and survive better for at least a while.

Finally, it is disappointing that the DVD did not include any footage of Bance Island (also called "Bunce"), an important slave trading site near Freetown. At least as of 25 years ago, Bance was a very haunted place, overgrown by cottonwood trees but unspoiled by tourist development (unlike Gorée Island is Senegal). Perhaps that is no longer so, or would the journey have been too dangerous or expensive?

Nonetheless, this is worthwhile.
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Shama presents an excellent combination of fact-fiction on a DVD, easily accessible for many viewers. Shamas storytelling is inspiring and his language should be listened to by more presentators in this field. I vagueli remember that this story was also told by Spielberg, at least part of it.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Andrew Fontenelle on 3 Mar. 2012
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This is an excellent documentary which captures some of the best parts of Simon Schama's book. The story of the ex-slaves who fought for the British during the American War of Independence. Recommended viewing!
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful By RR Waller TOP 500 REVIEWER on 7 Sept. 2011
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Schama is an experienced documentary film-maker; he and his team know how to get the best out of the medium. In this drama-documentary, they build on earlier successes to create a very informative, moving, shocking and engaging history of an aspect of American history which still resonates today.
Unless read by a vivid, creative imagination, scholarly history can remain just that - scholarly words on the page; drama documentary breathes life into it, the words rise from the page and become what they always were, the lives of real people. Schama has always had a flair for imbuing history with vividness and breathing life into stuffy history without an excess of voyeuristic, gratuitous drama.
This creates the slavery industry before our eyes; history becomes "now" and reverberates. One can ask little more from a historian.

Recommended.
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Bought after reading the 'Book of Negroes' ...
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