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The Best of Civil War Minutes: Union - documentary DVD review
THE BEST OF CIVIL WAR MINUTES: UNION Not rated by the Motion Picture Association of America rating: 4 stars
Actors: Michael Kraus
Director: Mark Bussler   Studio: Inecom Entertainment
DVD release: 09 October 2007   Runtime: 75 minutes (1 disc)
Format: Color, DVD-Video, NTSC, Fullscreen
DVD Features: Subtitles (English), Audio Tracks (English, Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)

The Best of Civil War Minutes: Union takes us on a hike into the past to discover some of the tasty little details overlooked by most Civil War documentaries. We don't hear much about the battles or timelines, but we do get to understand some of the passed-over particulars we might wonder about.

Military history advisor Michael Kraus (advisor for Anthony Minghella's Cold Mountain) shows us a good number of items and artifacts from the Civil War and gives us the skinny on their origin and use. He tells us about battle flags used by the Union, the different canteens used by the federal soldiers, photographic methods common at the time, muskets, carbines, uniforms used by North and South, as well as the details in a uniform that would indicate rank and more. Who knew there was so much to know about the forage cap (the kind the Civil War soldier is most commonly seen wearing)? Kraus knows his subject matter, and one can tell that he is completely immersed in the subject. He wears the uniform of a Union captain throughout.

The information is good if you're interested in the minute details (and I am), but the presentation could be improved upon. The quality of the picture lacks crispness, and some of the blue screen work is 1970s-era TV weathermap bad.

Inecom could improve upon their special features in this series. Including trailers of their other features is necessary and even desired, but I wouldn't include them as the only item under special features. (The two-disc Union boxed set examines over 100 additional minutes of overlooked Civil War minutiae given closer scrutiny.)

reviewed by Eric Renshaw
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