The Civil War: A Film by Ken Burns

The Civil War A Film by Ken BurnsThe DVD features on The Civil War provide a wealth of insightcreative philosophy historical perspective and educational enjoyment.Twelve years after its premiere broadcast the film was given a digitalfacelift sharpening image clarity correcting color and enriching itssoundtrack with a remastered 5.1-channel mix as demonstrated in the”Civil War Reconstruction” featurette. In interviews from 2002producer-director Ken Burns historian Shelby Foote journalist GeorgeWill author Stanley Crouch and composer-musicians Jay Ungar and MollyMason reflect upon The Civil Wars enduring significance. AndBurnss eloquent commentary–selectively included on each disc andtotaling five hours–illuminates the historical importance and creativeimpulse behind crucial chapters of the film. Fifty-seven onscreenbiography cards detail important North South and civilian figuresand two 1990 featurettes”Making History” and “A Conversation with KenBurns”–provide a more personal perspective on the creation of thisextraordinary film. Useful for both personal and academic study thesefeatures stand as a fitting supplement to one of the greatestdocumentaries ever produced.The most successful public-television miniseries in American history, the 11-hour Civil War didn’t just captivate a nation, reteaching to us our history in narrative terms; it actually also invented a new film language taken from its creator. When people describe documentaries using the “Ken Burns approach,” its style is understood: voice-over narrators reading letters and documents dramatically and stating the writer’s name at their conclusion, fresh live footage of places juxtaposed with still images (photographs, paintings, maps, prints), anecdotal interviews, and romantic musical scores taken from the era he depicts. The Civil War uses all of these devices to evoke atmosphere and resurrect an event that many knew only from stale history books. While Burns is a historian, a researcher, and a documentarian, he’s above all a gifted storyteller, and it’s his narrative powers that give this chronicle its beauty, overwhelming emotion, and devastating horror. Using the words of old letters, eloquently read by a variety of celebrities, the stories of historians like Shelby Foote and rare, stained photos, Burns allows us not only to relearn and finally understand our history, but also to feel and experience it. –Dave McCoy

The Civil War: A Film by Ken Burns

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