Ronald Reagan His Life and Legacy on DVD
By Jim Bray
Just in time to cash in on the death of the Great Communicator,
CBS news has released this quick look at the man, his life, and his impact on
Okay, maybe that cash in crack isnt fair; this production
actually predates Reagans death in 2004, and in the grand scheme of things
in todays media environment its actually about as fair and accurate
a look at Ronald Reagan as you could hope for from CBS or any other member of
the partisan media.
It looks at Reagan from the left of center so-called moderate point
of view that dominates the news media, but surprisingly - it does it
without bashing him. But they do tip their hand when they claim, for example,
that Reagans evolution from Democrat to Republican was a shift to the
right on his part rather than the clear shift to the left of the Democrats that
many who arent Democrats or members of the lockstep, partisan media would
argue was behind his awakening. But if they'd even bothered listening
to Reagan over the years they'd have noticed that he has been quoted as saying
something to the effect that he hadn't left the Democrats but that they had
But what are facts when you have an agenda?
The feature itself is quite short and quite superficial, which to a cynic could
be interpreted as a good thing in that it didnt give them time to indulge
in their normal sport of Republican-and/or-conservative-and/or Reagan bashing.
Alas, it doesnt really give them much time to do anything other than rush
through various aspects of his life (segments cover such topics as his sense
of humor, his ranch, his early life, his and Nancys love for each other,
etc.) so that what you get is really just a quick introduction to Ronald Reagan.
And as such it works. The result is a decent primer, and to fill out the programs
running time (90 minutes, padded) theyve included segments from some of
his most famous speeches.
This is perhaps the best part, because it gives you Reagan in a nutshell, in
his own words and style with no media filter other than the choice of segments
and their (apparently minimal) editing.
There are sections of his addresses from his initial inauguration as president
in 1981, and his address to Congress after he was shot shortly into his first
term. I was in awe of his speech commemorating the 40th anniversary of D-Day,
which began as a moving tribute to the men who had liberated Europe and which
seamlessly morphed into a hymn to freedom and pointed indictment of the Soviet
bloc's tyranny in one first rate address.
The man seemed never to raise his voice but, just like The Reverend Mister
Black of the old Kingston Trio song, with his soft but firm tones he could
cut em down like a big old tree.
The excerpt from his Tear down this wall speech is a great example
of Reagans vision, his strength, his communications skills and
his successes. After decades of the Soviets talking nice and then doing exactly
whatever they wanted to anyway (a hypocrisy similar to todays US Democratic
and Canadian Liberal parties), he threw down the gauntlet and called them on
their rhetoric versus their record.
To paraphrase, he told Mikhail Gorbachev that if the Soviets truly wanted to
be taken seriously about the new openness he was claiming to support then he
should put his money where his mouth was. Standing in front of the guarded and
closed Brandenburg Gate and the Berlin wall, he called on Gorbachev to prove
his good intentions: open the gate and tear down the Berlin wall free
the people and let them choose how they wanted to live. It's great stuff, very
inspiring and it needed to be said.
You knew where Reagan stood, and it was on the side of freedom, of the goodness
of the individual person, and of the potential of free people to wortkcreate
a better world.
Sounds very much like George W. Bush, in whom I see quite a bit of Reagan.
Anyway, this DVD is definitely worth seeing, especially for the clips. And
if you arent satisfied with the edited versions on the video portion,
a collection of unedited originals is included in audio form on the disc as
The DVD itself is okay. Since its TV stuff its in the 1.33:1 full
frame format, which isnt compatible with the 16x9 TV screen, so you many
want to stretch/zoom the picture to prevent burn in on your TV. Audio is also
TV standard, so while theres nothing really wrong with it it certainly
wont be on your list of the top five discs that showcase your home theater.
But thats not what this disc is about, of course, and that said the picture
and sound quality are fine.
You also get a short feature The Great Communicator.
Ronald Reagan, His Life and His Legacy, from Paramount Home Entertainment
87 min. full frame (1.33:1, not 16x9 TV compatible), Dolby Digital
Producer and editor: Gordon Rothman
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