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Roosevelt’s Life

April 2023
1min read


The American Experience, PBS, October 11 (9:00-11:00 P.M. Eastern Time) and October 12 (9:00-11:30 P.M. ) .

The American Experience , the PBS series of historical documentaries, begins its seventh season with as fine a program as any it has ever aired. It’s a mini-series on the life of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, written and produced by David Grubin, who, over the course of four and a half wholly absorbing hours, presents an epic that is both personal and political. The film examines the wellsprings of its subject’s character, chief among them the unshakable confidence imparted by a mother unshakably confident in her son’s abilities, takes an unsparing look at the dynamics of his marriage to Eleanor—wonderfully effective in some ways, but offering scant emotional nourishment to either of them—and engrossingly charts his battle to continue his career after polio had left him far more disadvantaged than most Americans realize even today. He came back, of course, to struggle first with a national crisis and then with a global one, in the process redefining how our citizenry views the role of its government and leaving a legacy so monumental that every single one of his successors has had to pay homage to it in one way or another. Grubin’s fluent filmmaking tells the story with verve and such immediacy that we can feel the full warmth of that devious, irresistible, and indefatigable personality half a century after it was extinguished.

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