I'm a gay dove and still liked it!
Jeffery Mingo | Homewood, IL USA | 12/04/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"How does history affect elite institutions and how do elite institutions affect history? This documentary tries to answering that by focusing on West Point, the institution built from where George Washington trained soldiers for the American Revolution. This is a constructionst work: when the citizens are proud of the military (like World War II), they love West Point, when they feel the opposite (i.e. the Vietnam War), they downgrade it. A big emphasis here is the Civil War when many cadets dropped out to help the Confederacy. Civil War enthusiasts will love this disc. The film covers phenomena that happen on any campus, hazing and cheating. It mentions the first blacks and women to graduate from the school. There are many hawkish icons here: McArthur, Eisenhower, Schwartzkopf, etc. I don't care for Andre Braugher as an actor, but he did a good job narrating this work. I disliked that homophobia is not brought up. The disc celebrates the gender- and racial diversity of the school, but ignores the fact that openly gay and lesbian students would be expelled. This film ends with the graduation of the class of 2001. That means pre-911 and the Iraq War. So another chapter is being created right as viewers are watching the work. I think students and parents of students considering any military academies must see this documentary. It was excellent; even a dove such as myself can admit this."
A great overview
CGScammell | Southern Arizona | 12/03/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This DVD is a nice addition to any American history buff.
From the beginnings with the Founding Fathers' blessing, West Point had faced scrutiny for being a wasteful military training academy. Jefferson had approved its formation, but Congress always threatened to close the institution, especially during Andrew Jackson's reign.
And then the Mexican War happened. The first gradutes of West Point were sent down to Texas to fight off the Mexicans. Those who came out of this battle, Grant, Lee, McClellan, all ended up commanding in the Civil War years later.
To be a West Point Graduate meant you were an honorable, trusting officer. But this honor also came with its stigma.
We see old archival photographs, listen to some interviewees (including military historians), get views of the academy and learn new tidbits along the way. Cadet Robert Lee graduated with no demerits, a record that still stands.
This is not a production made to lure recruits into the academy. It talks about the history of the institution, the famous graduates and almost graduates (Edgar Allan Poe) and the many scrutinies West Point faced."