National Catholic Register

Arts & Entertainment

Weekly Video Picks

BY John Prizer

March 30-April 5, 2003 Issue | Posted 3/30/03 at 2:00 PM

 

Ronald Reagan: A Legacy Remembered (2002)

Great public figures often have humble private lives, and knowledge of their personal qualities and relationships can help illuminate their larger achievements.

This A&E cable-TV documentary shows how our 40th president helped the United States prevail in the Cold War and ignited an economic boom. Interviewer Frank Sesno, CNN't Washington bureau chief, seeks out family members for those telling anecdotes that defined the chief executive's personality.

Cabinet members Ed Meese and Caspar Weinberger and then-Vice President George Bush provide behind-the-scenes insights into the mechanics and broad purposes of the Reagan administration, and foreign leaders like Mikhail Gorbachev discuss the impact of his polices abroad.

His children share favorite family tales, while his wife, Nancy, presents a candid look at his life since the announcement that he suffers from Alzheimer's disease. Scholars continue to debate his place in history.

But on the evidence presented here, Reagan was always true to himself and stuck to his principles, even under great pressure.

Frontline: The Gulf War(1996)

As we face off once again against Iraq, it is useful to recall the history of our first armed confront ation with Sad dam Hussein. This four-hour documentary series, produced by the BBC, is the best video guide available. The program chronicles how the war began, with miscalculations in Washington and Baghdad, and was fought despite differences between the White House, the Pentagon and the generals in the field.

There are candid interviews with Dick Cheney, Colin Powell, James Baker, Gen. Norman Schwartzkopf , Mikhail Gorbachev and Margaret Thatcher. They analyze the circumstances that led up to the 1990-91 conflict in which more than a million troops on both sides did battle. We also watch the allied coalition's air war, its ground assault, the liberation of Kuwait and the fallout from Saddam Hussein's retention of power. It was a tremendous military victory for America and its allies in which our state-of-the-art information-age technology proved decisive. But its political consequences are with us still. (To order, call WGBH at (800) 255-9424)

Intruder in the Dust(1949)

This adaptation of a William Faulkner novel is a brilliant, stirring re-creation of the closed society that was once small-town Mississippi.