Review: Lee & Grant (TV, 2011)By Carrie S., 6/1/11
Shown On: History Channel
Directed By: John Ealer
Originally Aired: May 31, 2011
Run Time: 94 minutes
“Lee & Grant” is a two hour documentary style on the two supreme leaders of the American Civil War: Robert E. Lee and Ulysses S. Grant. It was first shown on May 31, 2011 as part of History Channel’s “Civil War Week.” It is directed by John Ealer and written by Winston Groom, author of “Forest Gump.”
After watching History Channel’s “Gettysburg” documentary the night before, I really had to motivate myself to watch this. But within minutes I could tell it was a vast improvement; this one was not as painful.
When History Channel released “America: Story of US” it made its attempt to revolutionize the documentary. If you watched the entire “America” series you would know that there was a lot of repeat footage used for various parts of history. History Channel continues to do some recycling for “Lee & Grant”, though it’s from other programs and not just “America.” While many may prefer seeing Civil War photography in “3D”, it’s not my personal preference. What I found a little distracting was seeing various heads of people rotating back & forth in 3D on my TV. Since it’s used extensively throughout, it made the experience less enjoyable. But again, it’s all personal preference. I just don’t care to see the images I know and love manipulated and rotated around in an effort to keep my interest. I understand that this updated format is History Channel’s effort to get those who normally wouldn’t have an interest in history to watch. And while it’s not necessarily my style, it’s a very high quality production in terms of visuals.
The documentary is well paced and hits upon key moments for both men. There is a nice mix of photography and historian interviews, along with some re-enactments. In no way is it cutting edge, nor does it present anything shocking to those who know these two men already. For someone who is just learning about Lee and/or Grant, it is decent though not always accurate and definitely not thorough.
As I watched, I couldn’t help but be constantly reminded of another set of documentaries released recently on PBS: “U.S. Grant: Warrior” and “Robert E. Lee“, which both run 90 minutes long and contain very similar information and even the same historians. I think I prefer the PBS versions a little more.