Parents' Guide to

The Roosevelts: An Intimate History

By Joyce Slaton, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 11+

Lots of historical detail in evenhanded, traditional docu.

Movie NR 2014 840 minutes
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Devotees of Burns' lively documentary style who have already lapped up his views on baseball, Prohibition, the Dust Bowl, and other historical topics will be eager to catch this film, too. And they won't be disappointed, for, as one of the biographers interviewed for the series says about the Roosevelts, "No other family has touched so many American lives." Doubt it? Together, Theodore Roosevelt and FDR served for almost half of the first 45 years of the 20th-century American presidency, and Eleanor remains one of the most famous and influential women not only in the White House but in U.S. history.

But under Burns' gaze, the Roosevelts emerge as real people, not only a few paragraphs on Wikipedia or in a history textbook. Teddy Roosevelt's bloodlust and belligerent imperialism; the distinct possibility that Eleanor Roosevelt was gay and cheating on her husband; FDR's own mistresses and mistakes during WWII and the Great Depression -- all these and other gossipy topics are given an airing. However, they're presented in the context of entire lives. There are moments in which each of the Roosevelts acted in ways both foolish and valiant. That Burns manages to present such complete pictures of long-dead figures is a triumph, and this doc is a treat for history lovers.

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