The Century: America's Time, Vol. 1 (1999)

Genres - History  |   Sub-Genres - Politics & Government, Social History  |   Run Time - 120 min.  |   Countries - United States   |  
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Synopsis by Sarah Ing

Something about the millennium makes documentarians wax nostalgic. ABC is no exception. With the rollover of the year, decade, and century, summations are in order. Century: America's Time is one such wrap-up, albeit a mighty ambitious one. Peter Jennings narrates this look back at the last 100 years. From a strictly American point of view, the video starts at the turn of the century, with the birth of the common man, and moves all the way to present-day technology, with the computer leading the way. The presentation is divided onto six tapes. Each program tramples through a dense history with Jennings providing the transitions. Beginning with the great melting pot, a timeline of occurrences highlights each video: the invention of the automobile, the suffrage movement, both world wars, and Vietnam. The video covers the "hippie" movement, the Red Scare, and the undeniable AIDS epidemic. At times, the stories are told by American icons, including Oliver Stone and Eudora Welty. Other moments are described by photographs alone. This collection is an exercise in textbook description with little analysis assigned to the events. However, for the history buff, Century: America's Time is a gold mine. Century: America's Time, Vol. 1 focuses on seeds of change and how America's personality began to take shape with the arrival of new immigrants. America is labeled a world power for the first time as it assumes a leading role in the global conflict. World War I changes the face of the burgeoning country and all the citizens within. Later, women take the stage with a look at the Roaring Twenties. Social changes permeate this time: women's suffrage, the emergence of jazz, and Prohibition. With strengthened racial strife and world exploration, America's reputation builds. Finally, the stock market crash plunges the nation into a troubled era. Episodes included are : Century: America's Time -The Beginning: Seeds of Change, {#Century America's Time - 1914-1919: Shell Shock}, and {#Century America's TIme - 1920-1929: Boom to Bust}.