Posted: Tuesday, February 25, 2014 2:48 pm on HutchNews.com
By Dan Deming For The Bee
“We The People,” a new “Digital Dome” film, recently opened at the Kansas Cosmosphere. For anyone wanting a reminder about how our country was formed and to brush up on their American history this is an excellent tool. And even if history bores you, “We The People” might just provide an intellectual spark to help people understand how this nation was born and, in my opinion, how far we have drifted from many of those basic tenants and principals.
The production has a credible list of academic advisors and a steering committee that includes Kirk Schlutz, president of Kansas State University, along with former military chief of staff General Richard Myers. The makers say they have strived to be nonpartisan and have accomplished that mission. While most of the footage underscores principles most older persons learned in school long ago it provides an important refresher that many need today as we watch the fabric of our country being torn apart by hostility and a lack of cooperation in Washington to solve critical problems that threaten to send us down a path the founding fathers feared but could never imagine.
“We The People” underscores conditions leading to the American revolution and follows the country’s expansion, founding documents and the evolution to more recent times. The 45 minutes are narrated by Morgan Freeman and Kenny Rogers while lead producer Aimee Larrabee, who spent time in Hutchinson last weekend talking about the film’s background, has extensive Kansas ties including an Emmy-nominated PBS documentary about “Last Stand of the Tallgrass Prairie.”
This film should be mandatory viewing for all middle school and again high school students, many of whom don’t get sufficient historical exposure colorfully presented on the big screen. Unfortunately, it apparently is not available outside of commercial theaters but a version that could be licensed for school use throughout the country would be helpful in reaching younger generations. The promoters plan to have learning materials and related lesson plans on their website but actual classroom showings, followed by spirited discussions, would be better. It is currently showing in seven theaters nationwide including locations in Georgia, Florida, Texas and the prestigious Kentucky Science Center along with, fortunately, the Cosmosphere locally. Credit for its local availability also goes to the Hutchinson News as a means of helping highly constitutional principals and the bill of rights.
While you probably learned many things shown in “We The People” while in school we all tend to forget details and need reminders along with graphics and a production flair that will help us better understand what has driven the United States since 1776 and what is a stake for the future. This is a solid thee three star feature on a four star scale and well worth your time, ending with a question: “What part of We are You?” Finding that answer by a trip to the Cosmosphere’s Carey Digital Dome Theater just might open up some old grey-brain-cells and get you involved in helping bring about a more responsive local, state and national government.