Synopsis by Nathan Southern
America's Greatest Moments 1900-2000 constitutes a sweeping four-and-a-half hour epic documentary, in six parts, celebrating America's legacy over the arc of the 20th century. With the majority of highlights culled from archival newsreel footage, the tone is meditative, reflective, and utterly bittersweet. "Part One: A New Beginning (1900-1929)" opens as the first human voices are transferred via radio waves, electricity lifts industrialists such as J.P. Morgan and Henry Ford to heights of immense power, the Wright brothers soar aloft, the Titanic capsizes, and World War I unfurls. "Part Two: The World at War (1930-1945)" commences with a sobering flashback to the Great Depression and crawls ahead into the second global conflict that brought the Allies and the Axis powers to each others' throats and ended in one of the planet's most devastating genocides. Opening at the end of World War II, "Part Three: The End of Innocence (1946-1963)" moves ahead in time to the dawn of the Cold War, the brink of the Cuban missile crisis, the rise of apartheid, the civil rights movement, and the Kennedy assassination that brought America to its knees and permanently robbed the country of innocence forever. In the second half of this documentary, "Part One: A New Voice (1964-1975)" runs the race to the moon, watches the development of transistor television, provides a sobering look at the R.F.K. and Dr. King assassinations, looks on with horror as Charles Manson and his cult bring the love era tumbling to the ground, and watches Richard Nixon step down in the face of Watergate. "Part Two: America, the Great (1976-1990) sees Jimmy Carter masterminding the Begin/Sadat peace agreements, terrorism first rearing its ugly head, Jim Jones leading a mass suicide in Jonestown, Guyana, and Reagan replacing Carter, launching star wars, and ushering in the Iran-Contra affair. As this episode closes, the Berlin Wall collapses. In "Part Three: The Global Revolution (1990-2000)" the Internet comes together, Clinton enters the White House, O.J. Simpson goes on trial, and Al-Qaida sets the stage for the most horrifying mass murder ever to hit American society.
America, archival-footage, century, historical-survey, invention, retrospective