A history and a meditation on the American Congress, both at the institutional and at the architectural level — there are many beautiful shots of the Capitol, and the building becomes as much a character as any of the politicians who strode the stage within its walls. A fascinating documentary, enlivened not only with Burns’ usual fine use of period paintings and photographs,but also with film clips from Mr. Smith Goes to Washington and Advise and Consent.
The point of the this documentary are the words, not sound effects. The soundtrack,therefore, is mono — a crisp, clean mono, but there it is. If you pick this disc up, it’s for the what you can learn and think about, not for a visceral effects experience.
There are some very beautiful images here, notably of the dome at sunset. Some of the exterior shots are a bit grainy, but by and large the picture looks very nice, with deep, warm,saturated colours and fine contrasts. Of course, the picture quality will vary according the source material as well (so don’t expect miracles, naturally, from film clips from the turn of the last century).
The menu is basic, and the extras are the same as on the other discs in the Ken Burns’ America series: a short featurette on the how Burns goes about making his documentaries, and a longer interview with him, where he expounds on the hows and whys of his approach. His enthusiasm is contagious.
No bells or whistles, but fascinating stuff, as is generally the case with Burns’ documentaries.