Discoveries...America: Maryland 2005
Distributed by Bennett-Watt Entertainment, 13021 244th Ave. Southeast, Issaquah, Washington 98027; 800-327-2893
Produced by Bennett-Watt HD Productions
DVD, color, 88 min.
Jr. High - Adult
Date Entered: 06/06/2006Reviewed by Sheila Intner, Professor Emerita, Graduate School of Library & Information Science, Simmons College GSLIS at Mt. Holyoke, South Hadley, MA
Little known facts about Maryland are sprinkled throughout this beautiful survey of the U.S. state, including that it was the nation’s capital for a brief period in the 18th century, that it was second to ratify the Constitution in 1788 and that it was the site of the first sailing school in the U.S.A., established in 1950s. Maritime matters are taken seriously in the state, which is said to have a shoreline longer than the coastline from Maine to Florida, provided one counts the perimeters of all the islands in Chesapeake Bay as well as all the little inlets that embellish Maryland’s shore.
Part travelogue, part history, and part social and economic overview, Discoveries...America: Maryland highlights interesting people and places, and not just the ones one might expect. The program begins with a lengthy segment on Annapolis, the state capital. Viewers visit Chick and Ruth’s Delly, where the restaurant owner leads everyone present at the start of each day in the Pledge of Allegiance as well as the sailing school, where real landlubbers are welcome. Demonstrating that even those who can’t sail can enjoy sailing, Schooner Woodwind cruises are another Chesapeake Bay option.
Moving around the bay, viewers are introduced to PRS Guitars, a factory that produces handmade electric guitars. Staffed by craftspeople who are also musicians, viewers see the process from its beginning, in which wood boards are stenciled and cut on a band saw, to the last touches of sanding, staining or painting, and polishing, and the final step of hearing the finished guitar played. More stops around the bay include a dip at the beach at Ocean City, a stop at Assateague Island to see the wild ponies, a slightly longer stop at Crisfield to join a long-time crabber as he spends the day fishing, and a visit to the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St. Michaels.
The last two segments are devoted to Havre de Grace, home of the Decoy Museum and a thriving decoy-making industry, and a selection of Western Maryland’s special sites, including Cunningham Falls, with its hiking trails and natural beauty, Antietam National Battlefield, where one of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War was fought, and the C&O Canal, which served as a vital transportation system in the early days of the nation. Viewers do see a few shots of the cities of Baltimore and Frederick, but the emphasis in this program is on less familiar places.
The production is splendid, with beautiful camerawork, smooth editing, good voiceovers, and plenty of action to entertain viewers while they are being informed. While not solely an educational video, this piece can add much to any study of Maryland or the Chesapeake Bay area, and would be a welcome addition to classes at any grade level.