History Channel // 2002 // 100 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Patrick Naugle // April 18th, 2003
"He was an authentic person and a great President" -- Mikhail Gorbachev
Ronald Reagan, America's 40th President, will always be remembered for such political issues as "Reganomics" and the Iran-Contra scandal. While many recall the ex-president's achievements and failures at the White House, the fact remains that Reagan was also a staunch showman who enjoyed being in the spotlight as much as on his ranch with his wife Nancy. In Ronald Reagan: A Legacy Remembered, viewers are granted access into the often very private life of Ronald Reagan, seen through the eyes of those who knew the president best. Nancy Reagan talks candidly about Reagan's assassination attempt and his fight with the debilitating Alzheimer's disease; Patti Reagan discusses her father's political career and parenting skills; son Ron Reagan opens up about his Reagan's aloofness and oft guarded private life; and many others (including Reagan's minister, friend Merv Griffin, and various political figures) discuss at length what it was like to be around the one time Hollywood matinee star turned governor turned President of the United States.
There is something about true life that fiction just can't touch. Our history books are rich in texture with information about events, scandals, and people that changed the way we live as Americans. A&E's Biography and The History Channel are two stations that focus solely on true life events -- they are, in effect, places where citizens can learn about their culture, both the good and the bad. Ronald Reagan: A Legacy Remembered is a fine -- if all too short -- hour and a half documentary on Ronald Reagan and his life in the movies, politics, and the presidency. However, while this is a good program, it's most likely only a scratch on the surface of a uniquely complex man. Because Reagan was so private, one gets the feeling that we're only allowed tidbits of information on the one time Hollywood star -- like the man himself, this film keeps us at a distance. Nancy Reagan adds the most poignancy to the proceedings; it's through her eyes that we see the two most harrowing events in Ron and Nancy's lives: Ronald's near death assassination attempt and his battle with the crippling Alzheimer's disease. Both personal friends (game show mogul Merv Griffin) and formidable adversaries (George Bush, who took Reagan on during a bid for office) wax nostalgic about Reagan and his ability to captivate an audience and, eventually, the United States. The only thing that's truly missing here are previous interviews with Reagan himself -- either during his term in office or after -- and a glimpse into how Nancy is handling being in what Ronald himself called "the sunset of my life." For all his foibles, Reagan truly was a gifted man with people, and a president that people still have a solid fondness for. For those who are interested in the life of Reagan and American politics in general, Ronald Reagan: A Legacy Remembered is a good place to start.
Ronald Reagan: A Legacy Remembered is presented in 1.33:1 full frame, its original aspect ratio. Compiled of archival footage, interviews both new and old, and various other pieces of film history, this transfer looks about as good as it's going to get. There are the occasional fuzzy shots and pieces of grain in the image, though this is due in part to the source materials, not the actually transfer. Since this is a documentary, the imperfections in the picture can easily be forgiven. The soundtrack is presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo in English. This is a passable sound mix the supports the film well and does the job that's needed. No alternate subtitles or soundtracks are included on this disc.
The extra features on Ronald Reagan: A Legacy Remembered are fairly slim, though there's a nice "Biography" episode that was shown on TV. This doesn't include much new material, though it does make a nice companion piece for the feature. Also included is a rather slim family tree about the Reagan roots.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: History Channel
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 100 Minutes
Release Year: 2002
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Reagan Family Tree
* "Biography" Episode