ARLINGTON, Va., Nov. 6 /PRNewswire/ -- PBS (Public Broadcasting
Service) announced today that it will air the new Ken Burns documentary
series, THE WAR, in September 2007. The seven-part documentary series,
directed and produced by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick, explores the history
and horror of the Second World War from an American perspective by
following the fortunes of so- called ordinary men and women who get caught
up in the greatest cataclysm in human history.
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Plans call for THE WAR to air over two weeks beginning on Sunday,
September 16 (four nights the first week and then three nights the second
week) from 8:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. In addition to the national broadcast on
PBS, THE WAR will also air simultaneously on PBS High Definition Channel
with surround sound. PBS will repeat each episode the night it airs, stage
marathon viewings on the weekends, and launch the film as a weekly series
after its first two-week run. The series will also be rebroadcast on PBS's
World Channel following the original broadcast. A web page dedicated to THE
WAR will also be launched this week at pbs.org/thewar.
Burns will show highlights of the film at the International Conference
on World War II at the National World War II Museum in New Orleans. (The
conference dates are November 16 - 19, 2006.) Participants will include:
former war correspondent and legendary CBS newsman Walter Cronkite; WWII
bomber pilot and former senator George McGovern; war correspondents Andy
Rooney and Richard C. Hottelet; James Bradley, author of Flags of Our
Fathers; and former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who will discuss
the liberation of Eastern Europe and the Cold War; British author Sir Max
Hastings; and noted World War II historian, Donald L. Miller. Burns will
show highlights from THE WAR at a dinner event on November 16. (For more
information on the conference visit http://www.ww2conference.org/)
Six years in the making, this epic 14-hour film, reminiscent in scope
and power of Burns's landmark series THE CIVIL WAR, focuses on the stories
of citizens from four geographically distributed and quintessentially
American towns -- Waterbury, Connecticut; Mobile, Alabama; Sacramento,
California; and the tiny farming town of Luverne, Minnesota. These four
communities stand in for -- and could represent -- any town in the United
States that went through the war's four devastating years. Individuals from
each community take the viewer through their own personal and quite often
harrowing journeys into war, painting vivid portraits of how the war
dramatically altered their lives and those of their neighbors, as well as
the country they helped to save for generations to come.
"The Second World War was so massive, catastrophic and complex, it is
almost beyond the mind's and the heart's capacity to process everything
that happened and, more important, what it meant on a human level," said
Burns. "Every person in the country was deeply affected by this war,
whether in battle, at home, at work, or in the case of Japanese-Americans,
in internment camps. By focusing on the personal stories of ordinary
Americans who had extraordinary experiences, the film tries to bring one of
the biggest events in the history of the world down to a very intimate
scale. And in the end, we all begin to see, I think, that there are no
"PBS has a deep and abiding respect for the history, drama and tragedy
of war," said John F. Wilson, Senior Vice President, PBS Programming. "It's
critical that we capture the stories of the generation that fought and
lived through World War II before they are lost to us forever. Serving our
mission to educate and inform, PBS's goal for THE WAR is to reach into
every home and classroom -- so together we can better understand what we as
a nation experienced in those difficult years and what we as a nation
Accompanying the series will be a companion book, written by Geoffrey
C. Ward and introduced by Ken Burns, that will be published by Alfred A.
Knopf; Ward and Burns collaborated previously on the unexpected bestseller
The Civil War. PBS Home Video is producing a complete DVD box set that will
feature "making of" footage and an interview with Burns and others involved
in the film. The soundtrack will be released in September 2007 by Sony BMG
Legacy Recordings. As with all of Burns's films, there will be an extensive
educational outreach component and an interactive Web page that provides
more information on the film, the battles and related issues.
"THE WAR is a stunning achievement in filmmaking," said Sonny Mehta,
Chairman and Editor-in-Chief of the Knopf Publishing Group, "and possibly
the most complete rendering of war ever captured by a documentarian. It is
an honor to be working with Ken and Geoffrey once again on this very
special book, which promises to be a landmark publishing event." Knopf is
announcing a first printing of 750,000 copies for the book, which will go
on sale nationwide August 21, 2007.
PBS will begin promoting THE WAR on November 8 between the broadcast of
three productions from Thirteen/WNET New York that deal with World War II:
SECRETS OF THE DEAD: DOGFIGHT OVER GUADALCANAL, a modern investigation of
the legendary World War II showdown between an American and Japanese pilot,
using restored vintage planes and computer-generated recreations (November
8, 2006, 8:00 - 9:00 p.m. ET); WARPLANE, the story of the evolution of air
power (November 8 & 15, 2006, 9:00 - 11:00 p.m.); and SECRETS OF THE DEAD:
BOMBING NAZI DAMS, a profile of one of the strangest missions of World War
II, the dropping of the bouncing bomb on Nazi dams (November 15, 2006, 8:00
- 9:00 p.m. ET).
In addition to Keith David's narration, THE WAR features first-person
voices read by some of America's greatest actors. Tom Hanks reads the voice
of Al McIntosh, the editor of the Rock County Star-Herald in Luverne,
Minnesota, whose weekly columns poignantly tried to explain the
unexplainable to his neighbors. Other voices include Josh Lucas, Bobby
Canavale, Samuel L. Jackson, Eli Wallach, Robert Wahlberg, Carolyn
McCormack, Adam Arkin and Kevin Conway.
You hear that? It's the sound of the prices on ANYTHING from WWII screaming through the roof.
Glad I got my Garand this weekend!
I've seen excerpts, and they looked lame, but everything Ken Burns has done was good.
Yea the previews don't look promising, I have a bad feeling hope it is wrong.
I have a feeling we are going to hear all about the contributions of women, minorities, hyphenated americans,etc,etc,and how mean we were to the Japanese. I'm sure by the end, you will know ALL about Rosie the Riviter and Tokyo Rose, and the Tuskeegee airmen,too. Well, we'll see.
bump with preview, I'm really excited about this
I think Ken Burns was already pretty much ordered by some minority group to redo his work to more prominently include them.
He caved to them to some extent as I recall.
I'll be glued to the TV.
I loved his Civil War series. Even if this is infested with PC, I have some confidence Ken Burns still puts together a great documentary.
Starts the 23rd.
Here is the PBS page on it.
bump - it's on in a few minutes
Yep---I'll be switching from ESPN in 8 minutes
Hispanics are crying rivers here in S. Texas that Ken Burns didn't include the role of Hispanics in WWII.
5 more minutes.....
I can read a book. I have absolutely no interest in investing time in Ken Burns' liberal politically correct version of World War Two.
If it turns out not to be a screed, I can always watch bits of it later.
"If I didn't kill a Japanese in a day, I didn't feel like I was doing my job."
"You can't join the Navy, your parents are married!"
I am watching it right now it seems pretty good.
I liked it.
Lots of footage and events that never make normal documentaries--Carlson's Raiders for example.
It looks like tomorrow starts in North Africa. The only book I've read on North Africa is "An Army at Dawn". This should be a good episode highlighting how the Army was NOT ready in equipment or manpower to start a battle.
The cool thing about PBS in Louisiana now---they are highlighting the WWII Louisiana Maneuvers.
With Ken Burns's documentaries, half the material is about how America was so shitty toward black people. Did you know that the most significant figure in baseball was Jackie Robinson? If you had to depend on Ken Burns for everything you knew about basball, you'd say yes. In fact you'd think baseball was primarily about the civil rights movement.
Just got done watching it. The first installment was the lamest war documentary I ever saw and the music was irritating.
I wish they would rerun "Victory at Sea" instead!
So far I would say it is incredibly bad, just plain awful.
Less that 5 min. historical context and information on the pre Pearl Harbor Pacific situation, no depth at all. Not much on Europe other than Hitler was bad and killed people.
Virtually no actual eye witness accounts from Military personal at Pearl Harbor. The USS Arizona does not even get a mention.
Nothing, zero, nada, zip on what happen on Wake Island.
Just surface coverage of the Military fight in the Philippines, Bataan, and Corregidor. Again no depth at all. ONE US Military eye witness for the whole campaign. The only thing they gave any decent coverage of was the Death March but they did that with just the one eye witness.
Did Jimmy Doolittle exist and did his raid actually take place.
Absolutely nothing on the Battle of the Coral Sea.
The Battle of Midway barely gets a mention and not a single eyewitness to the battle, no mention of the actual losses or why they impacted the War.
Battle of Guadalcanal better but still no depth of coverage and again why only one eye witness.
Was Burns afraid to talk to veterans of the events? If this continues Burns has probably squandered the last chance to get these people on film.
I thought they might gloss over the smaller battles… but they don’t even mention the small battles or many major battles and are glossing over major battles they do mention. If they had spent less time on Big Band music and generic home front footage they would have had time to mention some of the War.
Then you get to the narration which seems to be designed to be as detached and sterile as possible.
To call this program as it is so far a disappointment is a massive understatement. I had a bad feeling but could not have imagined anything this shallow or this bad.
I liked it. I was listening to a radio show that was talking with Ken Burns about the series and he stated he was not going to focus on military technology or strategy but rather on ordinary people. In that regard I think he did a great job. The interviews that the people gave were very interesting. I have seen plenty of shows discussing the Battle of the Coral Sea but very little of what the war was like to ordinary Americans.
When I heard he was making this film I was excited then cautious. I love his Civil War and watch parts of it weekly, the man makes good films. Then I became worried it might become a "war for matter what is terrible for humanity" hitpiece.
I liked it. 5 minutes in I was impressed.
1. The take is original. The impact on four regular towns is nice I think.
2. It's been far too long since people have discussed these events and the impact on not only our future history but our ("character of the American people" Mr. Shelby Foote) around the water cooler. Hopefully this film does that instead of re-runs or whatever the hell office people discuss.
well, considering this was only the first 2 hours of a 16 hour commercial free documentary, im sure they will get around to detailing alot of things, and it looks as though they are going to take alot more time with the rest, seeing as that in in 1/8th of the entire series they have moved from 1939 until the end of 42. only 3-4 more years left to tell a story and 14 hours and 2 weeks to do it, im pretty sure this is gonna be realy good when looked at as one large peice.
i thought it was very powerful, with alot of good quotables -
"we didnt take any more prisoners after that..." - some guy after seeing his mutilated budies
"i never questioned the nececity of THIS war" - another guy in a face to face screen time moment
I agree that things were heavily glossed over but I think (considering the length of this documentary) that it was basically an intro piece, give a background on what was happening for the first quarter of the war. You have to remember that this is for mass consumption, we may know tons about WW2 history but many in the general public know very little. He had to set the stage for more detailed accounts.
I don't know if it was the part about the Hispanics in Carlson's Raiders that was added later but if so that was one of the best parts of part 1 in my opinion.
I'd like for somebody watching say this show is poor after watching the air war scene I just watched. This is an excellent program. I work in aviation. One of the greatest honors of my life was to bear the casket of a man that faught in North Africa and Italy. My son I named after my wife's paternal grandfather and he flew 35, yes 35 combat missions as top turret gunner in B-24's - 8th air force. I have been raised on WW2 from the time I was a boy and read about it even today almost daily.
Watch this program fellas. It's damn good.
Yes it is---however, there was not a mention of airborne ops in Sicily or North Africa. The Sicily op's unintended successes, and its errors, deserved some mention.
Well that's about how it is shaping up...sad that its still the best thing on TV.
Oh don't forget the Holocaust. Basically....The Tuskogee airmen single handedly stopped the holocaust by dropping the A bomb on Japanese civilians. There, WW2 in a public schools nutshell.
One thing nobody really seems to mention, the battlre, combat, etc were only the PART of the Second World War everyone is familiar with.
The war could NOT have been won without the mobilization of the home front.
People like Andrew Jackson Higgins, Henry Kaiser, Rosie the Riviter and a lot of others pitched in and did their part.
The logistics of the war are simply amazing. Shipyards built in just a couple of months, Consolidated Aircraft building a B-24 every 63 minutes, Liberty ships built in a week.
We were building entire ships faster than the wolf packs could sink them, and airplanes faster than the enemy could shoot them down.
No slight to GI Joe, but we didn't win WW2 through some sort of superior tactics of amazing heroics. Fact is, we simply outproduced the enemy in a way that has not been seen or heard before or since.
The War effected a LOT more people than GI Joe. It effected everyone in the country one way or the other.
I'll go with Burns on this one because there is enough combat footage out there to refight every battle fought twice over. Nobody has really covered the war from the point of view of some GI's dad or mom or wife and kids, or the average guy that was at home.
Another thing: It took 8-9 GIs to keep one in the line. Not everybody got to be a hero.The stories over the years I have heard are pretty interesting. A weather observer in the Aleutians faced his own private war amd got no glory. He helped win it just as much as Willy and Joe did.
Ought to be an interesting perspective on the War.
The biggest problem with it is the name. When you call it "The War" you expect a complete break down and examination of WWII.
It's really a story about four towns and how they were impacted in the broader war. But I guess that wouldn't be as catchy.
I am enjoying it a lot in it's context.
I was very disappointed. Burns left out key points about the war. His timeline for the war is sketchy at best...and by jumping around and leaving out hugely important battles, he confuses the audience about what/where/when.
The title does not match the context. Why not..."The Home Front"?
He paid a huge disservice to the brave sailors and airmen who gave their lives at Guadalcanal. His description of how the Navy "deserted" the Marines until November is not only an outright LIE but deeply disrespectful to the honored dead, on both sides still resting on the bottom of Ironbottom Sound. His treatment of the Navy's contribution and actions at Guadalcanal are in fact reprehensible. It was the NAVY that kept the Marines on The 'Canal. There were several major sea battles around The 'Canal from August '42 until February '43. During these fierce fights, the United States Navy lost two heavy carriers, seven cruisers, dozens of destroyers, hundreds of planes and thousands of sailors to keep the Tokyo Express off the backs of the Mud Marines of the First Division. They didn't always have it their way...in fact the Japanese usually kicked our butts, but we won enough times, and won well enough to finally wear the enemy down and give the Grunts a chance to win on the island.
His stats are deeply flawed as well. To state that we only lost 1,900 men overall against the 21,000 the Japs lost is crazy! I nearly choked when the announcer said that.
I got sick watching Burns whine about how badly we treated black, latinos and Neisei. Dammit...that was 1941...NOT 2007! He made the fatal mistake of all revisionist historians: He put historical actions and outcomes in a modern, contemporary context. STUPID!!!
There is much more...but I've bloviated enough...
I'm done watching it...
That IS a common mistake. Another thing that crops up among WW2 aged people is their attitude toward the Japanese. They try equate the Japanese of today with the Japanese they fought against. Not the same people. Times have changed and so have the attitudes of the people everywhere.
We DID treat Latinos, Neisei, and Blacks poorly. Hell, the Navaho Marines that were code talkers never got their deserved promotions, either!
Reason: Racism. No excuse for that, but racism was a LOT more prevalant in the 40s. Jim Crow was in effect and it was a white man's nation. OK, get over it. Things have changed for the better.
FWIW, IMO the most important thing that ever happened in the area of the entire Civil Rights movement was WW2. It put minorities in positions of real leadership, some were commissioned, but there were a hell of a lot of minority NCOs. That and the GI bill.
Lots of minorities now had leadership experience and had a shot at getting a decent education.
I think that the white liberal movement of the 60s did about as much harm as good. Equality was coming along at a slow, but steady rate and the libs got impatient and started trying to force an issue. Had we let nature take it's course, I feel that the progress would have been real and solid, rather than the Sharpton/Jackson mess we have today. What happened during and right after WW2 was the beginning of an assimilation process, where the minorities were being assimilated into society based on competence, etc.
Dammit, you have to remember that the AVERAGE (operative word here: AVERAGE) minority member had little or no skills and education until the Military trained him.
Imagine the feeling that went with, for example, coming from a family with no hope and no schooling to speak of whatsoever and simply getting a shot at High School or even college!
Still, Ken Burns is a little whiney about it.
BTW, In 'Goodbye Darkness, Manchester pointed out that the 1900 men we lost on the Canal is not condidered to be unacceptable losses compared with the losses accrued on the rest of the island hopping campaign.
It is not only poor but very poor... while you are satisfied for what ever reason the series last night did not even cover North Africa and Burns is moving in to the third year of the war and we have yet to hear from a single sailor.
Going in to year three and…
North Africa ignored.
No mention of the War in the Atlantic.
No mention of the submarine campaign in the Pacific.
Major battles not even mentioned.
Most major US figures in the War are never mentioned.
In general (with the exception of the 8th Air Force) all aspects of actual war fighting poorly and ineptly covered.
The things he tries to over on the home front like War production are covered with no depth.
Calling it poor would be kind… calling this series “The War” was a lie.
I finally saw the opening statement for these episodes tonight.
It said something like---loosely quoted--"there are too many events in WWII--we will follow the wartime events of 4 dudes, their towns, and their families"
Once again that was very loosely quoted, but it might explain some gaps in coverage.
I thoroughly enjoyed Tuesday's episode, and I'm beginning to think that much of the hatred here is because WWII is such a recent war, and we are miffed that certain parts are left out.
ETA: piccolo--I agree 100% with your 1st post
My grandfather was there aboard USS Ancon. His was the only ship that didn't open fire on the airborne troops, at least that what the USS Ancon history says. It was a big war. I'm sure it would be tough to mention every action in twice the time.
Isn't it possible that it was just poorly done? So far, it's a yawn fest.
Been watching this for the last few nights.
Ehh.. not too bad I guess.... better then a kick in the pants and for sure better then garbage like 'Family Guy'.
Seems to blow through parts pretty fast and gloss over some things that might have been given greater detail.
Overall though I think it is a good thing though. A lot of the education about WWII is gone. As far as I can tell, in schools today it is completely blown over. A non-issue.
Every evening so far, Ive been having my 5 and 9 year old boys coming in and sitting down and watching it with me. We talk about whats going on. We talk about the why's. We talk about why so many people had to go so far away and die to save the world from evil. Im hoping they get a better understanding of WWII and how much people gave up and gave of themselves to do what they did.
So far, I'm enjoying it.
I started watching with no preconceptions about what to expect. The only reason I knew to DVR it was that the guys at my modelling club seemed all excited about it. Otherwise, I had never heard of Ken Burns or this project.
Four episodes in, and I'm looking forward to the rest. As long as you look at it as a group of snapshots, a collection of personal stories of four semi-random locations of North, South, East and West, and not the Audio/Visual Encyclopaedia of the Second World War, (Which, frankly, will take more than 16 hours) you won't be disappointed. I already have the Encyclopaedia of the Second World War in XXIV volumes. I don't need Burns to go into detail about El Alamein or Operation Torch, I have books to tell me that sort of thing. I do not have the stories of these wartime citizens. In this, this documentary is filling a massive gap, and I think it is only laudable that these stories be comitted to film before those who were there die off taking their stories to the grave with them.
And honestly, I have little issue with the civil rights aspect. Oftentimes we take our civil rights for granted, and WW2 was a seriously low point, where just when Americans needed the civil rights, they were discarded as inconvenient by the Government. A lot of people in the general populace may have forgotten or simply never knew this in the first place.
How many episodes have shown so far?
Okay, my station will air repeats on wednesdays starting next week.
I watched most of it, and have to say for me, it lacked a spark. It was okay, but not up to his "Jazz", "Civil War", "Brooklyn Bridge" or "Men who made Radio".
What did you guys think after it was over?
edited to say: Apparently there were two versions. An uncensored version, and a cleaned up version. My PBS station apparently aired the bland version.
I can't say that it completely sucked. However, it wasn't good. After the first two episodes, I didn't bother setting aside time to watch it. I caught bits of each episode. It wasn't good.
He also screwed up the account of fighting against the Shuri Line on Okinawa. If you listen to his account the Marines came to the rescue of the Army and that is not historically correct by any means.
piccolo nailed it.
Ken Burns makes well-crafted films.
But the content is always "White-Mans Guilt, Part: Whatever".
I refuse to buy into the "White Mans Guilt" brainwashing!
I wasn't there, I didn't do it, so I refuse to spend the rest of My Life feeling bad about it just because a bunch of ignorant, narrow-minded Libtards demand I feel bad about other Peoples actions.
The Ol' Crew Chief
I started to watch Burn's series on baseball a few years until I realized he was telling the history from the perspective of race. I said "screw it I don't need that crap" and turned it off.
No Doolittle Raid. That was a giant boost to morale. And it set up Midway. Which wasn’t covered all that much.
Nor was the Battle of the Coral Sea.
In Europe he mentioned the Hurtgen Forest a lot but didn’t mention the Remangen Bridge once.
To try and be fair to him The War should have been as long as his Masterpiece, The Civil War. Nothing he’s done since has topped it.
As much as some here want to praise it “The War” fell flat on its ass as history and objective experience except for the HANDFUL of people interview.
As emotional manipulation “The War” might be considered a success but not much else.
And again I say calling this thing “The War” was an insult to the millions of Americans who served and it ignored.