While reading my dashboard and catching up on the blogs I follow, I noted that over at Flintlock and Tomahawk was posted a link to Von Steuben's Continentals: The First American Army By Lion Heart Film Works. I had purchased this DVD a few months back and realized that I failed to pass along a review.
According to the company’s website, "A 60-minute, live-action documentary DVD on the life, uniforms and drill of the Continental Soldier 1775-1781... The film analyzes the uniforms, drill, camp life, food, weapons, equipment, etc. of the soldiers. 60 minutes."
The good: The packaging is the standard fare black case with a well executed cover label. The graphics are clear and not some cheesy photocopy. The DVD is also professionally marked which ensures that it will play in all players. I have experienced home labeling [with stickers] can be un-playable in some DVD drives due to their thickness. The documentary itself has been especially well directed and edited leaving one to believe that these guys are not just reenactors that wanted to make a movie, but movie-makers that are also reenactors. The narration’s volume is consistent and spoken clearly. Lastly the uniforms worn are high quality and it is obvious that the actors are "progressive" reenactors who take pride in authenticity and don't just shoot for "good enough".
The bad: The displays of rifle drills do tend to drag on a bit. There was also one [very short] period where you were watching a Sergeant drill his soldiers while hearing another's commands. I am sure this was intentional due to the distance from camera to subject, but honestly there isn't much else bad to say
Final thoughts: While I own many references, to include a reprint of Von Steuben's manual, it was great to see it all in action. There are plenty of home videos on YouTube of battle reenactments, but it is interesting to watch how it is supposed to look as commands are given and actually obeyed. The supporting story line was logical to follow and the dramatizations served well to accentuate the script. Overall, an excellent purchase.