Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Prohibition (2011)

Directors: Ken Burns & Lynn Novick

Starring: Bootleggers, Fuddy Duddys, now-dead Party Animals and really old people

More info: IMDb

Tagline: How did a nation founded on rights ever go so wrong?

Plot: Prohibition tells the story of the rise, rule and fall of the 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, an amendment that made it illegal to manufacture and sell alcohol anywhere in the United States. The film starts with the early history of alcohol in America and examines the 19th-century temperance and progressive movements through the repeal of the 18th Amendment in 1933.

My rating: 8/10

Will I watch it again? Sure.

I really dig this flick and I'm fascinated with this period in time in the U.S. but my biggest problem with this documentary was deciding on what to drink while watching it. I know, right? Usually it's a piece of cake. I like wine when I'm watching vampire flicks, bourbon for modern horror, white Russians for WWII movies, martinis for spy, Scotch (or bourbon) for crime, Grasshoppers or Carrot Cakes (a GREAT drink that's equal parts Irish cream, Goldschlager (don't try other Cinnamon schnapps - I've tried others but Goldschlager works best) and butterscotch schnapps - this may become your favorite drink for a while) for comedies and whiskey or beer for action. Oh, and if it's a jungle picture, whatever I drink will have some kind of fruit juice in it. You could say I love booze. I love it so much that I'm determined to keep myself at arm's length from letting it control me. I never want anyone or anything to tell me I can't (or shouldn't) have a drink or two from time to time.

I love all things about the 1920s and 30s, the music, films, etc. I love crime films and documentaries from that era and the larger than life characters that emerged from it. This 3-part, near 6-hour (!!!) documentary spends a lot of time covering the emerging backlash from religious busy bodies in the 19th century. The first part deals with everything that led up to the passing of the 1919 amendment (it would be another 12 months before it went into effect). The second is all about the bootleggers and the breakdown of disregard for the new law and the third deals with the eventual downfall and repeal of the 18th amendment 13 years later.

It's a fascinating and seemingly exhaustive look into a social experiment that ended up being a miserable failure in nearly every aspect. I really liked it but I was hoping for more on the lawbreakers. They talk about Capone a bit but they really only touch on the big talking points - things like the St. Valentine's Day massacre. But then there's so much else to talk about and there are countless docs on gangsters of this time that there's no need to delve too deeply into it.

After watching the AMAZING season 2 finale of BOARDWALK EMPIRE (2010) the other day, I was primed to tackle this lengthy doc. And to tell the truth, I didn't drink anything during it because I'm fighting off a cold. Now that I think about it, it's kind of funny. I'll make up for it this weekend should I feel better.

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