The movie provides a comprehensive review of one of the most essential but underrated institutions in the American government. The movie shows the strengths and weaknesses of the legislative arm of the government and shows the significance of the American ideal of self-rule. It changes the perspective of the viewers about the Congress by showing the power vested in the organization and its ability to rule the country.
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The documentary utilizes archival footage, newspaper accounts, journal and personal reviews to show the history of the Congress, as well as the parade of representatives, which represent the best and worst of the American public. It shows the vital roles played by well-known representatives such as George Norris, Henry Clay, and Joe Cannon among others.
The history is adequately narrated with a focus on key themes that have dominated proceedings of the House of Representatives since its founding: civil rights and growth. It shows issues relating to addition of states, as well as industrialization and labor challenges. The issue of civil rights is highlighted with the standing of black slaves in the constitution being a significant topic in early debates in the House.
The documentary highlights the disagreements in many issues and the struggles of the Congress to reach an amicable compromise. It shows dedication of the early representatives of Congress to work together for the good of the nation. Ken Burns’s documentary is effective in outlining of the important aspects of the activities of the Congress but has the weakness of being too short. It failed to outline the formation of the bicameral form of the legislature. It also does not mention the system of appointing senators through state legislatures, as opposed to using direct vote, until late in the film.
In conclusion, the documentary offers an informative look into the operation of the Congress. In spite of its shortcoming in length, which results in underrepresentation of some aspects, it is informative and educational. It enables viewers to learn fascinating facts about the history of the Congress.
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