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Saturday, January 13, 2007

Waiting For The War to Begin

I've been waiting since The Civil War premiered back in 1990 for Ken Burns to turn his sights to World War II. My wait will be over this September, with the debut of The War—"a seven-part, 14 1/2-hour exploration of World War II through the eyes and emotionally charged recollections of 'ordinary' citizens who either served in the trenches of the European or Pacific theaters or who lived through it on the home front." Editors at TV Guide were given a glimpse last week, and Matt Roush had nothing but praise.

No talking-head experts or academics in this vivid history — it’s mostly first-person, focusing on nonfamous (for now) members of four communities meant to symbolize the impact of this “worst war” on a country at once united and shattered by the horrors of combat. (The witnesses hail from Waterbury, Connecticut; Mobile, Alabama; Sacramento, California; and Luverne, Minnesota.)
From legendary to lesser-known battles, through to the liberation of the concentration camps, even the most familiar material takes on a new, devastatingly affecting urgency as narrated by these everyday Americans. It looked to many of us in the screening room like The War could well rival Burns’ breakthrough landmark The Civil War in its simple yet profound artistry and universal appeal. [Link]
You can watch a way-too-short teaser on the PBS website already set up for the series.

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