The Civil War - A Film by Ken Burns,
is 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
"[A] must have video...should be a requirement for the classroom."
On the DVD
Plot Outline A comprehensive survey of the American Civil War.
Plot Synopsis: This highly acclaimed mini series traces the course of the
U.S. Civil War from the abolitionist movement through all the major battles to the death of President Lincoln and the beginnings
of Reconstruction. The story is mostly told in the words of the participants themselves, through their diaries, letters, and
visuals are usually still photographs and illustrations of the time, and the soundtrack is likewise made up of war-era tunes
played on period instruments. Several modern-day historians offer periodic comment and insight on the war's causes and events.
Many subjects are discussed, from "What caused the Civil War?" to "Were the commanding generals at Chickamauga failures?" "Why
did General Lee fight at the battle of Gettysburg?" Includes interesting facts about the Union and Confederate Civil
War soldiers as well as generals. [A] most fascinating documentary and with 11 hours, it covers a lot.
The DVD features on The Civil War provide a wealth
of insight, creative philosophy, historical perspective, and educational enjoyment. Twelve years after its premiere broadcast,
the film was given a digital facelift, sharpening image clarity, correcting color, and enriching its soundtrack with a remastered
5.1-channel mix, as demonstrated in the "Civil War Reconstruction" featurette. In interviews from 2002, producer-director
Ken Burns, historian Shelby Foote, journalist George Will, author Stanley Crouch, and composer-musicians Jay Ungar and Molly
Mason reflect upon The Civil War's enduring significance. And Burns's eloquent commentary--selectively included on
each disc and totaling five hours--illuminates the historical importance and creative impulse behind crucial chapters of the
film. Fifty-seven onscreen biography cards detail important North, South, and civilian figures, and two 1990 featurettes—"Making
History" and "A Conversation with Ken Burns"--provide a more personal perspective on the creation of this extraordinary film.
Useful for both personal and academic study, these features stand as a fitting supplement to one of the greatest documentaries
ever produced. --Jeff Shannon
Hailed as a film masterpiece and landmark in historical
storytelling, Ken Burns's epic documentary brings to life America's most destructive-- and defining--conflict. With digitally
enhanced images and new stereo sound, here is the saga of celebrated generals and ordinary soldiers, a heroic and transcendent
president and a country that had to divide itself in two in order to become one.