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Revolutionary Stories

A Limited-Time Showing of Films at the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown

Available to view for a limited-time only, step inside and see the revolutionary stories told at the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown. Innovative films play an important role in linking the 18th century to the 21st throughout the museum, beginning with “Liberty Fever,” the award-winning introductory film narrated by an early 19th-century storyteller gathering personal stories about the American Revolution.

In addition to “Liberty Fever,” experience four short films, which are incorporated in permanent exhibition gallery settings, complementing period artifacts and interactive exhibits that connect people of today to the Revolutionary period. All of the films had their public premiere on October 15, 2016, in conjunction with the debut of expansive new exhibition galleries for the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown.

Liberty Fever

“Liberty Fever” – which won an American Alliance of Museums Gold MUSE Award in 2017 – features stationary silhouettes and moving shadow puppets scrolling by on a large “crankie” that are interwoven with live-action film segments featuring the stories of five people who lived during the American Revolution. Hear personal accounts from George Hewes, a witness to the Boston Massacre in 1770; Billy Flora, a hero of the Battle of Great Bridge in Virginia in 1775; Isabella Ferguson, an Irish immigrant to South Carolina who supported the Patriot cause; John Howland, a Continental Army soldier at the Battle of Princeton; and Peter Harris, a Catawba Indian from South Carolina who fought on the American side. The film is intended to evoke emotional connections with the story and characters so that modern-day viewers reflect on what the American Revolution means to their lives today.

Prelude to War

The first film visitors encounter in the exhibition galleries, shown inside a tavern in a re-created wharf setting, uses period images and illustrations to chronicle the evolution in the relationship between American colonists and the British government from the French and Indian War – which was followed by the imposition of taxes on the colonists to help pay Britain’s war debt – to the outbreak of armed conflict in 1775.

Battle of Saratoga – The First Great Victory

Shown inside a tent in the theater, “The First Great Victory,” with actors portraying American and British commanders and soldiers, presents the story of the 1777 Battle of Saratoga, a turning point in the Revolution that led to critical French support of the American cause and a formal alliance.

The Siege of Yorktown

There’s nothing like “The Siege of Yorktown,” unfolding on a 180-degree surround screen in the museum’s experiential theater, complete with rumbling seats, wind, smoke and the smells of gunpowder, seawater and coffee. Since you can’t visit in person, the film has been formatted for online viewing. Take in the story of the Battle of Capes that resulted in a French blockade of the Chesapeake Bay, preventing access by sea to Yorktown, attacks on British redoubts in Yorktown, and the British surrender on October 19, 1781. Actors portray allied Generals Washington and Rochambeau and British General Cornwallis as well as Joseph Plumb Martin, a member of the Continental Army’s Corps of Sappers and Miners who helped build fortifications at Yorktown, and Sarah Osborn, who followed the Continental Army with her husband and served food and coffee to the troops.

The Constitution

The creation of a new national government after the Revolution is the theme of the museum’s final gallery film, emphasizing the role of negotiation, compromise and amendment. Animated graphics combine with the words of many of those involved in shaping the Constitution and, subsequently, the Bill of Rights, among them Benjamin Franklin, James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, Gouverneur Morris and George Mason.

Film Credits

The American Revolution Museum at Yorktown films were produced by Cortina Productions of McLean, Va., working with media production and curatorial staff of the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation, the Virginia state agency that administers the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown and Jamestown Settlement. Production of the films was funded by donations to the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown Campaign for Support. Dominion Resources, a leadership donor, underwrote “The Siege of Yorktown” gallery film experience.