Johnstown Flood

( 2 )

Overview

Narrated by Richard Dreyfuss and directed by Mark Bussler, Johnstown Flood, tells the story of the massive flood that destroyed the town of Johnstown, PA, on May 31, 1889. Using old photos, etchings, recreated footage, and dramatic readings of first-hand accounts, this black-and-white film explores the history of the town, which, at the time of the flood, had become a major center of steel production in the U.S. Dreyfuss describes how the South Fork Fishing and Hunting Club, a resort for the wealthy (one of its ...
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Overview

Narrated by Richard Dreyfuss and directed by Mark Bussler, Johnstown Flood, tells the story of the massive flood that destroyed the town of Johnstown, PA, on May 31, 1889. Using old photos, etchings, recreated footage, and dramatic readings of first-hand accounts, this black-and-white film explores the history of the town, which, at the time of the flood, had become a major center of steel production in the U.S. Dreyfuss describes how the South Fork Fishing and Hunting Club, a resort for the wealthy (one of its patrons was Andrew Carnegie) allowed the dam to fall into disrepair and the reservoir to fill far higher than the engineers who built the dam had ever intended. Heavy rains contributed to the problem, and, on the day of the flood, the water overflowed and the dam collapsed, sending a huge gusher of water coursing through the Conemaugh River Valley, destroying everything in its path. When the water reached the town, nearly an hour later, the wave was cresting nearly 40 feet high. More than 2000 people were killed -- drowned, crushed by debris, or burned in fires caused by the cataclysm. In the aftermath, people around the country rallied to help the survivors rebuild the town. The DVD features audio commentary from historian Richard Burkert of the Johnstown Area Heritage Association.
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Special Features

Closed Caption; Full-length commentary track by Richard Burkert, executive director, Johnstown area heritage director; 20-minute mini-documentary and interview with Richard Burkert providing additional information on the history of the Johnstown Flood; "The Johnstown Flood," an 1889 piano illustration by Alberto Rivieri, performed by Patricia Prattis Jennings exclusively for this DVD
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Josh Ralske
As documentaries about important historical events go, Mark Bussler's Johnstown Flood is fairly amateurish and tedious. The frequent use of generic rushing water footage and cheesy reenactments (including costumed actors unconvincingly relating survivors' written accounts of the disaster) overwhelm the occasionally fascinating narrative. The melodramatic score adds to the problem, attempting to pump up the drama in a transparently artificial way. Richard Dreyfuss does an adequate job with the narration, and things get more interesting in the second half of the film after the flood has destroyed the town. At that point, the filmmakers have genuinely interesting artifacts -- photos of the aftermath -- to enhance their pedestrian telling of the tale. The highlight of the DVD release of the film is actually the "historian's commentary" by Richard Burkert of the Johnstown Area Heritage Association, who engagingly describes the events depicted in the film and even debunks some of the tales stemming from the disaster the filmmakers have related (and in some cases even reenacted) without comment. While the film itself seems like it was produced with junior high history classes in mind, other viewers interested in the history of this event are strongly encouraged to watch the film with Burkert's informative commentary track.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 8/26/2003
  • UPC: 806213155922
  • Original Release: 2003
  • Rating:

  • Source: Inecom Entertainment
  • Aspect Ratio: Alternate Wide Screen (1.78:1)
  • Presentation: Wide Screen / Black & White
  • Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • Language: English
  • Time: 1:24:00
  • Format: DVD

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Richard Dreyfuss Voice Only
Jeniffer Lee Dake Participant
Charles King Participant
Patrick Jordan Participant
Technical Credits
Mark Bussler Director, Producer, Screenwriter
Michael Bussler Executive Producer
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Scene Index

Side #1 --
1. Intro
2. May 31, 1889
3. The Lake
4. The Storm
5. The Dam Breaks
6. First Victim
7. Destruction
8. Johnstown, 3:37
9. Survivors
10. The Great Fire
11. June 1, 1889
12. The Dead
13. Anna's Story
14. Aftermath
15. Lynch Mob
16. Recovery
17. Johnstown Today
18. Credits
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Menu

Side #1 --
   Play
   Chapters
   Audio Setup
      Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo
      Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound
      Audio Commentary With Johnstown Flood Historian, Richard Burkert
      English Subtitles: On
      English Subtitles: Off
   Special Features
      Interview With Johnstown Flood Historian, Richard Burkert
      Audio Commentary With Flood Historian, Richard Burkert
      Johnstown Flood: Illustrated for Piano
      Shot to Pieces Trailer
      Civil War Minutes: Confederate Trailer
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 2 )
Rating Distribution

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 28, 2012

    Excellent documentary.

    Excellent documentary.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    disturbing

    made me want to learn more about the history of our country.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews