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Our family was excited to receive “The Historic Expedition of Lewis & Clark” DVD from Marshall Publishing. The 35 minute DVD follows Meriwether Lewis and William Clark as they embark on their 2 year, 8,000 mile journey across America and back. The movie isn’t your typical movie with actors and such, but rather a narrated story with classical music in the background and still images, map drawings or video of re-enactments that are used to enhance the narrators story. The narrator follows Lewis & Clark as they encounter bears, nearly starve, commission Sacajawea to join them on their adventure and eventually meet the Pacific Ocean with great joy. They spend time on the West Coast organizing their data and preparing for the return trip home. Amazingly, only 1 person perished on the great adventure.
My children and I learned many new things about the Lewis & Clark expedition that we hadn’t heard before, like that they nearly starved and ended up having to eat some horses during one part of the voyage. Or that they were so young when they set out. I was particularly surprised to learn that they were only in their 20’s when they were sent on this great adventure. For some reason, I had this idea that they were much older than that.
We watched this as a family and everyone except Miss Paya (5.5) and Little Bit (2.5) stayed engaged the whole time. The two little ones would wander in and out as we watched, but it didn’t hold their interest as much as it did my older children. They all commented that they enjoyed the DVD, although the narrators pronunciation of Sacajawea was completely different than anything any of us had ever heard before. It took us a bit to reconcile that as we were watching, but eventually it stopped sounding so odd. Incidentally, there are two spellings and two pronunciations for Sacajawea (Sacagawea), which was something else we didn’t know! The parts of the DVD that showed the re-enactments with the boats and canoes on the river were much more interesting to watch than the parts that were just still images being narrated. Some of the still images used were gorgeous pieces of art and I would have loved a resource guide to be included so we could look up some of the artists that created them. Miss J said that she thought it was o.k. and enjoyed the information being presented, but it wasn’t as visually stimulating as others historical films she has seen.
It was neat to watch the voyage as it went through the St. Louis area as we have family there, so many cities and areas were familiar to the children. We also learned that both Meriwether Lewis and William Clark were governors of the Missouri Territory. At the end of the DVD, the narrator shared what happened to the members of the team after they returned home. I had no idea that Meriwether Lewis had come to such a tragic end (either murdered or suicide) but was thankful that William Clark enjoyed a more kind life after his great adventure. Sacajawea also died very young at only 25 years old.
All in all we were very pleased with the content and production of the DVD. This would make a great supplement to any American History studies or for those specifically studying the Lewis & Clark expedition. Normally $24.95, it is currently on sale for $19.95 which seems pretty typical for educational documentaries of this sort. I liked this well enough that I am making notes to use some of their other titles in our studies later on. My older children are 12.5, 11 and 8 and I felt like it was appropriate for those ages, although I can see my daughter “aging” out of this resource in the next year or so.