Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The War

I've seen most of the 3 episodes that have aired so far of The War, the new Ken Burns documentary currently running on PBS.

It has moments of tediousness, and moments of terror and beauty; what war is like, I guess. I'm struck by the honesty of the production; mentioning how we didn't know how to fight early on; the mistakes made by the generals at Anzio, for example. I had read about the sacrifices made by all Americans to fight this war, but this documentary really brings it home. A real contrast to the current war; where military families are making the greatest sacrifices, while most Americans go on with their normal lives.

I was also struck by how the later civil rights struggles were planted in the 40's in the South, as African Americans demanded jobs, equal treatment, the chance to fight. The membership of the NAACP zoomed much higher in this time.

Highly recommended, and so far much more thought-provoking than much that is on TV.


Dan Trabue said...

Hey, I had no idea you were up posting regularly again! Ya gotta tell a brother.

I'll have to go back and read what you've been up to.

Anonymous said...

This shows what TV could be at its best. There has been much criticism of the Burns documentary by Latinos because he originally left all mention of them out and "made up for it" by adding 2 interviews in episode 1. It's a fair criticism and quite the contrast with the stories of African-Americans and Japanese Americans. But those stories used to be left out, too, until African-American and Japanese American historians and filmmakers stopped waiting for others to tell their stories and started telling them themselves.
Latinos will have to begin telling their stories about WWII so that any future Ken Burns will not miss them and have to tack on things at the end.

This is definitely the human side of the war and definitely from an American p.o.v. If a British filmmaker had done this, the war would have begun 2 years earlier. A French version would be mostly about occupation. A Russian version would be about desperation, starvation, and the most people killed in the war--while wondering if the British and Americans were EVER going to open up the 2nd front in the West.

But one can easily see why it took Burns 6 years to make this film.

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