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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Seeing Prohibition with your very eyes, 26 Dec 2012
By 
JazzFeathers (Verona - Italy) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Prohibition [DVD] [UK version] (DVD)
I read Okrent's book, `Last Call' (on which this documentary is based) last year and I thoroughly enjoyed it. And I enjoyed this documentary quite as well.

There are three dvds in here, for a total of more than 6 hours of footage. The first dvd covers the birth of the idea of prohibiting alcohol from Americans' lives, back in the 1800s: how people lived, what they drank and how much, how this affected everyday life, how the first prohibition movements worked. The second discusses the life of the 18th Amendment: how it was lobbied by the anti-saloon league, the way distrust towards immigrants played a big part in it, how this changed the life of people, especially youth. The last dvd addresses the way gangsters profited from the law, how this took away the trust of people for the law and order and especially for Prohibition, how when the Great Depression kicked in the 18th Amendment was finally repealed.

There is a huge amount of images from the time discussed. Mainly photographs in the first dvd, but a huge amount of it. So many videos in the other two, coming from Twenties films, but also non-fiction footage and even some personal photos and video. I love this.
Beside interview with experts - including Okrent - there are a number of interviews with people who were young during Prohibition. Oral history is incredible. People who remember often have a very different view, their tales have a different mood from the commentary from experts. And the one always enriches the other.

There is a thing where the documentary goes in a different direction than the book. Where the book focuses on everyday life and the way Prohibition affected it, the documentary focuses more on personalities. Politicians, anti-saloon league members, judges, cops, personalities of different kind, including journalists and gangsters. Where the book only touches upon these people's life and involvement in Prohibition, the documentary gives a full portrait of them, and I liked a lot the way stories mixed with images. It gives a very strong feeling for the era.

So, maybe there is nothing particularly new about the info the documentary provides: it's the same as the book, is basically the same as so many other books about Prohibition. But I loved the footage. In a way, it was like being there.

Recommended.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Everything You Ever Need to know about Prohibition, 7 Dec 2012
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This review is from: Prohibition [DVD] [UK version] (DVD)
Prohibition

From Ken Burns, one of the masters of the documentary, come this compelling three parter. We tend to forget how long that ban on liquor in the USA went on. It was shown over here on the PBS America Channel in December 2012. There are over 6 hours of footage in 3 discs, showing how the temperance movement in white Protestant mainly small town America had had enough of the nation's menfolk throwing away their lives and wrecking their family life through the demon drink. The 18th Amendment to the Constitution barring manufacture, sale and distribution of intoxicating beverages was put into place at the end of 1919, and with it came a host of unintended consequences. As well as joblosses across the amusement, entertainment and restaurant sector, the tax revenue to city halls from legitimate sales immediately dried up and before long small time crooks became big time ones. Nobody that wanted a drink had to go without one. 32,000 speakeasies (where almost for the first time men and women drank together) materialised in the basements of New York and Brooklyn and by 1926 the US was the world's biggest importer of cocktail shakers. Californian grapegrowers started canning (or packaging as "winebricks" grape pulp with the warning that if left in the warm it could start to ferment! US breweries like Anheuser Busch started producing "malt extract". Canadian brewers and distillers did pretty well. Drugstores enjoyed booming liquor sales for "medicinal purposes". The number of registered pharmacists in New York State tripled during Prohibition! The king of the illicit distribution networks in Chicago was that folk hero Al Capone. A law that was meant to foster temperance instead encouraged intemperance and excess. No law had been so imperfectly applied or widely ignored and probably the worst consequence was the corruption it led to among public officials. The Roaring Twenties were a boomtime for bootleg liquor but then the Wall Street Crash and the collapse of the economy under Republican Herbert Hoover led to a Democrat landslide for Roosevelt in 1933 and prohibition started being dismantled straight away with the return of badly needed jobs. Last state to repeal Prohibition was Kansas in 1948 and even there a few small towns hang on with it. Quality of original images excellent. See clips here: [...]

printed in Wakefield CAMRA's magazine O-to-K in Januaryn2013 text ©RKW 2012
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another masterful chapter in Ken Burns American documentarys., 29 April 2013
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This review is from: Prohibition [DVD] [UK version] (DVD)
Superbly researched, beautiful use of historic photographs and newsreel footage, effective use of narration and voiceover combined with carefully chosen music of the period. What can I say? Another GREAT documentary from Ken Burns.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Gift purchase but the recipient loved it., 23 Mar 2014
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This review is from: Prohibition [DVD] [UK version] (DVD)
This was a gift purchase to replace the blu-ray version that I purchased and that didn't work, due to being a US import. The recipient was very pleased and interested in the content and said that the quality was good too.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, 3 Feb 2014
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This review is from: Prohibition [DVD] [UK version] (DVD)
Excellent from Ken Burns. Very useful overview and a lesson for today also. Highly recommended as is all his work.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Up to Ken's usual standard, 18 Aug 2013
By 
Peter Burke (Scotland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Prohibition [DVD] [UK version] (DVD)
Narration by the ever-brilliant Peter Coyote.
In my view not quite up to Civil War standard, but pretty good all the same
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4.0 out of 5 stars prohibition, 6 Aug 2013
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This review is from: Prohibition [DVD] [UK version] (DVD)
Very informative about how the prohibition law came to be passed in the United States, it was very well put together and well worth the money.
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7 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "UK version", eh?, 17 Sep 2012
This review is from: Prohibition [DVD] [UK version] (DVD)
What does "UK version" mean? Region B? Region 2? Trimmed of some music or image subject to outrageous rights demands? Kitted out with different narration or intros? Who knows? And if it's actually the same TV series in every respect, why bother flagging it as a UK version and spreading despondent suspicion among the masses?

I only rated it to get the posting approved. But has Ken Burns ever disappointed? (Couldn't be bothered with his National Parks series myself, but I know it had ramblers frothing with glee. It was called "America's Best Idea", so this one must be "One of America's Worst Ideas". Iraq anyone?).
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Prohibition [DVD] [UK version]
Prohibition [DVD] [UK version] by Lynn Novick (DVD - 2012)
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