Watch It!

Whether you are looking to start a new hobby, expand your horizons, or have simply run out of things to watch on television, the library has a treasure trove of nonfiction DVDs and documentaries available for your viewing pleasure. Informative and entertaining, nonfiction DVDs and documentaries cover a wide variety of subjects: art, business, cooking, crafts, exercise, music, religion, science, self-help, and the list goes on. You can explore a particular historical event or a controversial issue, travel to various places, discover European art, learn Yoga, improve your golf swing, or become skilled at Salsa, all within the comfort of your living room.

If cooking interests you, check out the America's Test Kitchen series and learn the fundamentals of home cooking, see reviews of indispensable kitchen equipment and recommended supermarket ingredients. While our instructional dance DVDs - foxtrot, tango, rumba, waltz, or Irish dancing- are very popular, none of them can hold a candle to the popularity of our exercise DVDs. And we have quite a collection: Pilates, Yoga, Tai chi, Aerobics, even Bollywood dance workout. Looking for a milder workout? Then check out our Start Walking at Home DVDs.

Seized with wanderlust, but do not have the time or the funds to travel? Why not take a vacation with Ken Burns and his national parks series? Be dazzled by the vast beauty of Yellowstone and Yosemite, the subjects of two of our most popular DVDs. Or journey to faraway places with our Discovering series and discover Alaska, Australia, England, France, Greece Hawaii and Italy. Yes, now you can travel to Cuba but you can also take a virtual trip to The Forgotten Island, Cuba with the DVD of the aforementioned title.

You will be amazed and captivated with all the fascinating documentaries that our library carries.

One of our most viewed documentaries, and one of my favorite, is New York, a Documentary Film. Ric Burns presents a sweeping history of New York City in this series of eight DVDs that chronicles the city's history, from 1609 to 2003. Starting with the arrival of the Dutch, this documentary follows the development of New York City as it evolved and become the economic, cultural and social hub that it is today. Included are commentaries from various historians, archival film footage, and period photographs and maps.

Ric Burns’ older brother, Ken Burns, made history accessible to a wide audience with his monumental documentary, The Civil War, which was viewed by almost forty million people when it was first broadcast in 1990. Brought to vivid and colorful life, this retelling of a key moment in American history had a huge impact on the television viewing public. While most viewers raved about this series, some historians felt that Burns’ film portrayed a romanticized and misleading view of the Civil War, putting too much focus on white soldiers engaged in battle, while neglecting the roles of African-Americans and women during this conflict. Decide for yourself whether you side with the detractors or the supporters by checking out this stunning documentary.

The DVD Guns, Germs and Steel, based on Jared Diamond's best-selling, Pulitzer Prize-winning book, is a three part series that explores the possible reasons for the technological, economic, and societal disparities between Eurasian civilizations and the rest of the world. Professor Diamond argues that "ecological determinism" is the reason for the dominance of European/Western societies. Environmental limits, such as climate and geography, determine the economic fate of nations. Regardless of whether you agree or disagree with Diamond's analysis it makes for interesting viewing and great dinner party conversation.

Can a balance be achieved between our right to privacy and the government's need to gather intelligence in the interest of National security? Who today is not familiar with the name of Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor, who exposed the extent of the NSA's surveillance tactics to the world? Was his whistle-blowing justified? Is he a hero and a patriot or the ultimate traitor? Could he have done it in a different way so as to save himself, and his family, from paying such a heavy price? See for yourself. Watch Citizenfour, a gripping, real-life drama as director Laura Poitras and journalist Glenn Greenwald interview Edward Snowden in a hotel room in Hong Kong. In his review of this documentary, The New York Times film critic, A.O. Scott writes "It’s a tense and frightening thriller that blends the brisk globe-trotting of the 'Bourne' movies with the spooky, atmospheric effects of a Japanese horror film. And it is also a primal political fable for the digital age, a real-time tableau of the confrontation between the individual and the state." Note i Scott, A. O. (2014, October 23). Intent on Defying an All-Seeing Eye. The New York Times, p. C 1.

Ever wonder if fast food is making us fat? That is the question filmmaker Morgan Spurlock tries to answer in the documentary Super Size Me. For almost a month, Spurlock eats all his meals at McDonalds. While this sounds like a kid's dream, Spurlock posits that the fast food industry may be the reason why 37% of Americans are overweight and suffer from health-related problems. Watch this documentary and you may never want to bite into a Big Mac again!

Explore the origin and culture of the Indian subcontinent as you travel to India with the charming historian, Michael Woods, in The Story of India, a six-part series. Replete with facts and beautifully filmed, this entertaining as well as informative documentary is like "... watching a really good National Geographic article brought to life, with the lush photography, fascinating facts, sense of discovery and slight superficiality that implies, you’ll love The Story of India.” Note iiHale, M. (2009, January 5). In a Rush of Images, a Panoramic View of Indian History. The New York Times, p. C 5.

So if you cannot find a show that catches your interest or are discouraged with the same old same old on television, then it is time for you to check out some nonfiction DVDs from our library. Whether you desire Optimizing Brain Fitness, a visit to the Penguin Post Office, getting to know Our Constitution or would like to Paint Like Van Gogh, browse our nonfiction DVDs. Not only will you be entertained but you may also learn something new.
DVD Documentaries
DVD Documentaries 2
-Rina B


Note i Scott, A. O. (2014, October 23). Intent on Defying an All-Seeing Eye. The New York Times, p. C 1.

Note ii Hale, M. (2009, January 5). In a Rush of Images, a Panoramic View of Indian History. The New York Times, p. C 5.


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