Highly Entertaining Civil War Soap Opera
"Tee" | LA | 12/28/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is what I especially love about DVDS, the chance to see something that will likely never play on a television channel again. 1980's BEULAH LAND was a three-part mini series running just over four and a half hours. It's not perfect but it is highly entertaining and very well-acted. The program spans a period of over 30 years, from decades before the Civil War to the War to it's aftermath. BEULAH LAND stars Lesley Ann Warren who marries her childhood crush and eventually becomes mistress (the nice kind!) of his vast plantation estate, Beulah Land, battling evil overseer Paul Shenar, Yankees, financial hardships, hunger, and her feelings for artist Michael Sarrazin, not necessarily in that order. At times BEULAH LAND threatens to become a P.C. GONE WITH THE WIND or a PG MANDINGO (or vice versa) but it's extremely watchable (I planned to watch it over several nights and ended up watching the full movie in a night) and nice bit of nostalgia when these lavish mini series were on the main networks several times a year in the late 1970's and early 1980's. One thing I found a bit irritating was the continous jumps in years in the storyline as well as several main characters dying outside of the story, having just read some Amazon reviews of the book it appears the movie is only following what the book outlined.
Lesley Ann Warren is very appealing as the noble heroine Sarah, Meredith Baxter is fun as her fairly trampy sister. Paul Rudd (not the current film star of the same name) is appropiately bland as Sarah's husband Leon and Hope Lange shines in a too brief role as his imposing mother. Paul Shenar may give the best performance as the rather dashing example of pure evil but equally fine work is done by Dorian Harewood in the complex role of Floyd, a slave of dignity and intelligence who yearns to be a free man but remains on at Beulah Land. Clarice Taylor as Floyd's mother Lovey also gives a superb performance. Jenny Agutter is pretty good as the whore who becomes Shenar's bride although the British actress curiously speaks with an Australian accent at times instead of a Southern one.
Some of the more fascinating threads in the storyline of BEULAH LAND are somewhat under the surface: Leon and Floyd's relationship from best friends in childhood to it's ultimate strain as they grow into master and slave, Floyd's discreet unrequited love for Sarah, and a strong suggestion of at least a latent lesbian relationship between Leon's sister and her devoted black companion.
The current DVD cover shown on Amazon.com for BEULAH LAND seems to suggest the film is a grittier Civil War story like THE BLUE AND THE GREY; the copy I own has a more appropiate cover of Warren and Sarrazin that suggests a old-fashioned romance. Although the DVD lacks any sort of "extras", and doesn't even have closed-captioning, I consider it rather bargain-priced considering it's a two-disc set with 281 minutes of story at it's current price. BEULAH LAND may not be a classic but it's a solid piece of storytelling and should appeal to those who enjoy this genre of filmmaking."
Civil War Epic
F. E. Coffing | Indiana | 07/25/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Persons who collect good Civil War fiction will love this one.
See a younger Don Johnson here in a major role too for the fans of DJ.
Similiar to the old favorites GONE WITH THE WIND...NORTH & SOUTH...THE BLUE AND THE GRAY. If you enjoyed or own any of those DVD's you won't want to miss adding this mini series to your collection of fine, fictional Civil War drama.
I have long awaited this to come out on DVD. I have tired of and no longer use VHS tapes on my large screen DVD. I cannot tell you just yet about the screen quality of the DVD as mine has not yet arrived at this writing.
The story line is great and the actors all have done a fine job in this story and best of all, the price is great for a great movie."
Ron Braithwaite | El Indio, Texas United States | 12/13/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Personally, I was disappointed. I won't even comment on the fact that the primary actors scarcely age 5 minutes over a period of 25 years. More important is the fact that the acting is uneven and many of the 'southern' accents syrupy and forced. I also thought that the film dragged in many places. Also, quite unforunately, the story and sets parallel 'Gone with the Wind'. The setting is even in Georgia and we see virtually the same fires, crippled soldiers and escaping civilians. There's even an evil ex-overseer trying to buy the stricken plantation. The problem is that 'Beulah Land' isn't nearly so good.
I gave the film 3 stars, though, based on the complexity the film depicted in the relationship between slaves and slave-holders. It was a love-hate relationship with probably more love than hate. There was something like interracial harmony but with an undercurrent of discontent. Paternalism was rife and when the Yankee artist asks the mistress of the plantation why she won't free her slaves, the woman answers...'but what will become of them?'
Southern culture reckoned that blacks couldn't care for themselves and therefore there was little alternative but to continue a troubled system. Yes, there was also fear that 'freed' slaves would turn on their previous masters. Emancipation occurred and the Federal Government, in all too many instances, set itself up as the greatest plantation master of all because, after all... 'What will become of them?' It is an ironic and fearful thing that racial relations in the U.S.A. have become increasingly strained since the early Civil Rights Era. There has been true progress in the social and economic status of blacks but...in my humble opinion...either despite of because of this progress interracial relationships are worse now than at any time in the past.
Ron Braithwaite, author of novels--'Skull Rack' and 'Hummingbird God'--on the Conquest of Mexico"
A GOOD STORY OF THE OLD SOUTH
cjg | Central MA | 09/30/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"If you like Civil War-era stories and whether or not you read the three books, I think you should enjoy this production. The characters, costumes, settings are all very true to the periods. It should be noted that if you are a Civil War (battles) buff, there aren't many here, it is a story of a family of the Old South and how they cope. I think the character portrayals are all great. One may think Leslie Anne is a little sappy, while at the same time the strength of the story, but it does work. I highly recommend."