Men Who Built America, The

Featured In Issue 174, February 2013

WSR Score5
Basic Information on new release titles is posted as soon as titles are announced. Once reviewed, additional data is added to the database.
Lionsgate Home Entertainment
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Ruan Magan
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"The Men Who Built America" is an ABSOLUTE MUST VIEW documentary narrated by Campbell Scott! The nine-hour program chronicles the ownership class that guided the construction of the foundation of modern America and created the American Dream. The epic History Channel series is spread over three Blu-ray® platters and tells the stories of America's most influential owner-builders and dreamers. This is the story of industrialists Andrew Carnegie, J.P. Morgan, Henry Ford, Cornelius Vanderbilt, and John D. Rockefeller, and their feats that transformed the United States into the world's greatest economic power and affected the lives of every person in the world. The documentary chronicles the ever-accelerating shift to physical productive capital over the past centuries—which reflects tectonic shifts in the technologies of production. The documentary depicts the rapidly changing mixture of labor worker input and capital owner input occurring at an exponential rate of increase, as has been the reality for over 236 years, in step with the Industrial Revolution (starting in 1776). Up until the close of the nineteenth century, the United States remained a working democracy, with the production of products and services dependent on labor worker input. The documentary is centered on the beginnings of the American Industrial Revolution and the subsequent technological advances which amplified the productive power of non-human capital and the steady demise of labor's input and the resulting income inequality. It documents how plutocratic finance channeled its ownership into fewer and fewer hands, as we continue to witness today with government, by the wealthy evidenced at all levels. This is a documentary about entrepreneurs, competitive contests and ventures, and market domination, to gain maximum ownership control of productive capital, the non-human factor of producing products and services, and the resulting wealth and income derived from owning capital. It is the story of greed capitalism and the men who instigated the unjust condition that continues to afflict the United States today. (Gary Reber)

Special features include eight featurettes: "Andrew Carnegie" (HD 04:08), "Rich To Richer" (HD 03:10), "The American Dream" (HD 02:57), "Monopoly" (HD 02:52), "Competitive Nature" (HD 02:44), The Everyman" (HD 02:26), "The Rise Of Cornelius Vanderbilt" (HD 03:49), and "Traits Of A Titan" (HD 03:39); trailers; and upfront previews.

The 1080/60p AVC picture could be argued to be the most beautifully photographed documentary ever presented. The stylistic cinematography and subdued color palette perfectly depicts what appears to be the United States in the latter years of the 19th century and early 20th century. Hues are muted but incredibly suggestive of realism. Contrast is excellent, with deep blacks and revealing shadow delineation. Resolution is excellent, with fine detail exhibited throughout in facial features, hair, clothing, and object texture. Various historical black-and-white photographs and modern interviews are interspersed seamlessly with the documentary footage and dramatic special effects that convey tectonic shifts in the technologies of production. This is an educationally fascinating and exhilarating visual experience that graphically brings to life the history of America's early industrial age. (Gary Reber)

The DTS-HD Master Audio™ 5.1-channel soundtrack is wonderfully involving and engaging, with an effective holosonic® soundfield presence. Every sound element is perfectly applied, from atmospherics and sound effects to Foley that enhances the sense of realism. Deep .1 LFE bass extension is appropriately applied in the strong dramatic segments. The orchestral music score is spread wide and deep across the soundstage and extends to the surrounds to immerse and envelop. Dialogue is incredibly well integrated spatially throughout. Campbell Scott's narrative is steady and perfectly balanced within the context of the other sound elements. The commentary segments are always intelligible. This is an impressive sonic experience that achieves an unbelievable educational level of communication. (Gary Reber)