Ken Burns: The Roosevelts - An Intimate History

Season 1
 (3,772)
8.82014TV-14
Ken Burns chronicles the lives of Theodore, Franklin, and Eleanor Roosevelt, three members of the most prominent and influential family in American politics. It is the first time in a major documentary television series that their individual stories have been interwoven into a single narrative.
Starring
Peter CoyotePaul GiamatiEdward Hermann
Genres
DocumentarySpecial Interest
Subtitles
English [CC]
Audio languages
English

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  1. 1. Get Action
    September 14, 2014
    1 h 52 min
    TV-PG
    Subtitles
    English [CC]
    Audio languages
    English
    From PBS and Ken Burns -Examine the early lives of Theodore Roosevelt and his younger cousin; Franklin.
  2. 2. In the Arena
    September 15, 2014
    1 h 53 min
    TV-PG
    Subtitles
    English [CC]
    Audio languages
    English
    From PBS and Ken Burns - Follow the account of Theodore's presidency and FDR and Eleanor's courtship and marriage.
  3. 3. The Fire of Life
    September 16, 2014
    1 h 53 min
    TV-PG
    Subtitles
    English [CC]
    Audio languages
    English
    From PBS and Ken Burns - Join Ken Burns as he traces the effects of WWI on the lives of the Roosevelts.
  4. 4. The Storm
    September 17, 2014
    1 h 53 min
    TV-PG
    Subtitles
    English [CC]
    Audio languages
    English
    From PBS and Ken Burns - Witness Ken Burns's coverage of FDR's battle with polio and his response to the Great Depression.
  5. 5. The Rising Road
    September 18, 2014
    1 h 53 min
    TV-PG
    Subtitles
    English [CC]
    Audio languages
    English
    From PBS and Ken Burns - Join Ken Burns to examine FDR's New Deal and Eleanor's growing political activism.
  6. 6. The Common Cause
    September 19, 2014
    1 h 51 min
    TV-14
    Subtitles
    English [CC]
    Audio languages
    English
    From PBS and Ken Burns - Follow Ken Burns to survey FDR's leadership during WWII; while Eleanor tends to wounded servicemen.
  7. 7. A Strong and Active Faith
    September 20, 2014
    1 h 48 min
    TV-PG
    Subtitles
    English [CC]
    Audio languages
    English
    From PBS and Ken Burns - Join Ken Burns to examine Eleanor's role as civil rights and U.N champion after FDR's death.

More details

Directors
Ken Burns
Supporting actors
Meryl Streep
Producers
Florentine FilmsWETA
Season year
2014
Network
PBS
Content advisory
Smokingalcohol usefoul languagesexual contentviolence
Purchase rights
Stream instantly Details
Format
Prime Video (streaming online video)
Devices
Available to watch on supported devices

Other formats

Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars

3772 global ratings

  1. 89% of reviews have 5 stars
  2. 7% of reviews have 4 stars
  3. 2% of reviews have 3 stars
  4. 1% of reviews have 2 stars
  5. 1% of reviews have 1 stars
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Top reviews from the United States

Ulysses7245Reviewed in the United States on December 14, 2014
5.0 out of 5 stars
reassuring us when things were so bad, " he said
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When I was 13 or 14 years old my brother & I stayed up late one Saturday night and watched a war movie on TV. I don't remember what the movie was, but it ended with a voice-over by Franklin Roosevelt. My father had come home from a party just a few minutes before & came into the TV room just as Roosevelt began speaking. I was absolutely dumbfounded when Dad sank into a chair and began weeping. "You boys can never know what that voice meant to us, coming over the radio, reassuring us when things were so bad," he said. This documentary will show you why a grown man would break down and cry at the sound of FDR's voice 25 years after the fact. And why Americans, only a few years after his death, decided Theodore Roosevelt was one of our greatest presidents and ordered his head to be carved on Mt. Rushmore along with Washington, Jefferson & Lincoln. And Eleanor, to whom the world owes a debt of gratitude for the UN Declaration of Human Rights; and my mother owed personal thanks because my grandfather, in the depths of the Great Depression, somehow scraped together the money for Mom's orthodontic treatment. Grandpa loved Eleanor Roosevelt but he refused to allow his daughter to grow up with buck teeth like Eleanor. The Roosevelts were something of a miracle and I think it remains to be seen whether the United States deserved them. Watch this series -- you'll be glad you did.
82 people found this helpful
William ChristopherReviewed in the United States on June 1, 2020
5.0 out of 5 stars
Seering Masterpiece
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Anyone familiar with Ken Burns knows that all he does is make masterpieces. This is more than a documentary. It is an introspective look at the American character. This film masters the near-impossible task of commenting on social class, capitalism, party politics, and human nature in America objectively. The characterization of Teddy, Franklin, and Eleanor is so intimate that it can move even the most stoic cynic to tears. It is a journey of the American, and more importantly, the human spirit. The film delves into family intimacy and existentialism, then provides an intellectual, yet humanistic, interpretation of the constitution and American politics. Finally, economics is discussed in an enlightened and unbiased way. The discussion of how fascism came to rise in Europe and how capitalism and Democracy were saved by one brave man, damned by his contemporaries, and second-guessed by almost all of the American populous, is as poignant now as it was then and will be 100 years from now. This is mandatory viewing for everyone.
6 people found this helpful
john francis leonardReviewed in the United States on September 18, 2014
5.0 out of 5 stars
Fascinating
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No I haven't quite finished this lengthy and intimate look at the Roosevelts yet but already, there is much to say. Like all of Burn's films it does an excellent job of fleshing out it's subject and placing it (or rather them) into the context of American history. These two Roosevelt presidents were from different sides of the aisle but shared much more than their prestigious family name. Both overcame health obstacles, powering through disability and pain that would have cowed lesser men. Both were considered turncoats, traitors to the class in which they were raised. Both believed in loftier ideals than that of the privileged establishment. Above all both were extraordinary public servants when either could have gotten by on inheritance and birthright. And not to be forgotten is the courageous activist Eleanor Roosevelt who redefined what it was to be a First Lady and blazed new trails for all women of the twentieth century. Again, Burns brings these great Americans alive with exhaustive research, interviews with our greatest historians, and archival photos and footage. I can't see getting through this in one sitting, it is a lengthy work. But it is worth investing the time in viewing it at one's own pace. There is much to learn of our nation's history here.
61 people found this helpful
MacReviewed in the United States on April 8, 2015
4.0 out of 5 stars
Well Worth the Time!
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This is my favorite of the Ken Burns documentaries on all scores - content, script, visuals, etc. Plus, listening to Peter Coyote's voice is always a treat.

I am a great fan of all three of the Roosevelts covered in this series. My grandmother was not a fan of Franklin. My original aim in reading more about FDR and watching this series was to better understand her objections - all the questions I didn't ask when I was young. In the process of watching it on PBS and again on Prime, I learned more about Teddy, Franklin and Eleanor. They were flawed, but they were trailblazers who accomplished many things that make our lives better. We should all be able to say that about our accomplishments. Recently, in response to my comment about the way Grandma felt about FDR, a guy said, "He was a socialist." Maybe he was in some ways. In addition, he did not accomplish everything he set out to do, and perhaps not in the way we would wish. They did not set things up so that later changes - positive and negative- would not affect their work, but I do not argue with what they did accomplish. The same for all these Roosevelts. I admire them.

Many thanks to Ken Burns for his work, and to Amazon for making the series available to us.

Respond away, all you who disagree with me! It will be interesting to read your comments.
10 people found this helpful
Juan Manuel WillsReviewed in the United States on April 30, 2015
5.0 out of 5 stars
It is an excellent story in seven chapters of life (political rather than ...
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Series developed for PBS and released in 2014. Ken Burns is well known and recognized for historical documentaries on USA and its characters and in this production is not far behind. It is an excellent story in seven chapters of life (political rather than private) of Roosevelt (Theodore, Franklin and Eleanor, his wife) that significantly influenced the development of their country and the world through their vision, aggresive projects, policies and leadership skills they developed with the population. Theodore Roosevelt, the eldest, became president after the assassination of former President McKinley beginning the twentieth century, laid the groundwork to turn the US into a global power, with the "right" to intervene in the world and to influence their governments and populations to ensure good for humanity. He initiated social policies to support the people, earning thus, great enemies, especially the financial sector as JP Morgan, who wanted to continue growing their profits at the expense of the people exploitation. For Colombia, one of those countries more affected by his policies by not accepting negotiating the construction of the Panama Canal and the payment terms imposed by the Colombian Congress and therefore supporting Panama in its independence movement. I think of him as the tipical "gringo" imperialist character, who intended to replace Britain as master of the world and essentially succeeded. Considered one of the most popular presidents was instrumental in generating the spirit of development and innovation that have characterized the United States.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt, belonging to a different branch of the same family, met the Great Depression of the 29's, faced it with courage, reslution and innovation, created the Big Deal policy with many social elements (creation of unions, the protectionist state, setting reasonable limits on investment by big business), and achieved after four years of a dramatic and desperate situation of unemployment, poverty and inactivity, turn his country into the great engine, example for of the world. He did face also the development of the Second World War, supported England despite domestic political opposition to confront the Nazis and with Stalin and Churchill decided the division of the world after the victory and the creation of the League of Nations to prevent recurrence of these situations.

Eleanor Roosevelt also became a major influencer of social ideas, creator of the Declaration of Human Rights of the League of Nations, protector of low and segregated classes and a light that followed many of his countrymen during his public life.

It is also a saga about the sufferings of the family, the consequences generated by their dedication to public life by sacrificing the development of their children, not very long counted romances, ......

In short it is a good work that introduces us to the great influence of this family and many of the developments of modern society that had many of its bases in the initiatives and struggles of this trio
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(Spanish version)
Serie desarrollada para PBS y estrenada en el 2014. Ken Burns es reconocido por los documentales históricos sobre USA y sus personajes y en esta producción no se queda atrás. Es un excelente recuento en siete capítulos de la vida (más política que privada) de los Roosevelt ( Theodore, Franklin y Eleanor, su esposa) que influenciaron de manera significativa el desarrollo de su país y del mundo a través de su visión, su facilidad para liderar proyectos imposibles, sus habilidades políticas y el liderazgo que desarrollaron con la población. Theodore Roosevelt, el mayor, llegó a la presidencia por el asesinato del anterior presidente Mc Kinley y a inicios del siglo XX, sentó las bases para convertir a USA en una potencia mundial, con el “derecho” de intervenir en el orbe y de influenciar a sus gobernantes y poblaciones para asegurar el buen de la humanidad. Inició las políticas de apoyo al pueblo ganándose grandes enemigos, en especial del sector financiero como JP Morgan, que pretendían seguir creciendo sus ganancias a costa de la explotación del pueblo. Para Colombia fue de uno de los que más ha afectado nuestro país al no aceptar la negociación de la construcción del canal de Panamá y las condiciones de pago impuestas por el congreso colombiano y por consiguiente apoyar a Panamá en su movimiento independentista. Creo el caracter del gringo imperialista, pretende reemplazar al reino unido como dueño del mundo y en esencia lo logró. Considerado uno de los presidentes más populares fue esencial en la generación del espiritu de desarrollo e innovación que han caracterizado a los Estados UNidos.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt, de una de las ramas de la misma familia, se encontró con la gran depresión del 29, la enfrentó con valentía e innovación, creó la política del Big Deal con muchos elementos sociales, (creación de sindicatos, del estado proteccionista, de las jornadas laborales razonables, de los límites en inversión por parte de los grandes capitales, y logró después de 4 años de una dramática y desesperante situación de desempleo, pobreza e inactividad, convertir a su país en el gran motor del mundo. Debió enfrentar también el desarrollo de la segunda guerra mundial, apoyar a Inglaterra a pesar de la oposición política interna para enfrentar a los nazis y decidir con Churchill y Stalin la división del mundo después de la victoria y la creación de la liga de naciones para prevenir la recurrencia de estas situaciones.

Eleanor Roosevelt también se convertiría en una gran influenciadora de las ideas sociales, creador de la declaración de derechos humanos de la liga de naciones, protctora de las clases bajas y segregadas y una luz que siguieron muchos de sus compatriotas durante su vida pública.

Es también una saga sobre los sufrimientos de la familia, las consecuencias generadas por su dedicación a la vida pública sacrificando el desarrollo de sus hijos, romances no muy largamente contados,......

En fin es una buena obra que nos introduce en la gran influencia de esta familia y en muchos de los desarrollos de la sociedad actual que tuvieron buena parte de sus bases en las iniciativas y luchas de este trío
Paradise FoundReviewed in the United States on November 4, 2014
5.0 out of 5 stars
Beautifully reseached and created
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Remarkable exhaustive series from our best documentary film maker, Ken Burns. Well-researched, balanced, and thorough. Interesting that the cooling passage of time sometimes opens doors previously shut, so there is far more openness and transparency in telling the entire story about Franklin and Eleanor's marital separation - in all but deed - yet mutual appreciation and support, as well as dealing frankly with Eleanor's close and intimate relationships with other women. This was an excellent investment of my time to watch the entire series.
18 people found this helpful
D1omedesReviewed in the United States on November 9, 2015
5.0 out of 5 stars
Key in Understanding America's Rise in the 20th Century
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As a lifelong student of history, and current teacher as well, I am so grateful to have access to Ken Burns' documentaries. After watching several of his earlier documentaries, I believe The Roosevelts may be the best work Mr. Burns has created. The balanced perspective of personal and professional life, major events, personal anecdotes and insightful commentary provides an incredible encapsulation of the transition of the United States from a burgeoning democracy to a world power. The viewer feels connected to TR, FDR and Eleanor because their traits and personalities, the good and bad, are examined by multiple historians and journalists. The only real criticism I could think of would be that this series speeds over some of the more international historical topics. Burns emphasizes domestic issues and justifiably so - the U.S. was, and arguably still is, a very insular-focused country.

For anyone that wishes to understand how the United States changed from the 19th to the 20th century, this documentary is incredibly valuable. Ken Burns has done another masterful job and should be commended for another fine examination upon American history.
Amazon CustomerReviewed in the United States on May 4, 2015
5.0 out of 5 stars
A Wonderful Look at Our History!!!
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I caught some of this show a few months ago and have been looking for it ever since and finally..... I really enjoyed watching this show, I heard more details for some facts and heard new facts on Teddy's' and FDR relationship and so much more personal information on everyone. I love history and this show was presented as fact not someone's' opinions!!! I always loved Teddy yet now I know some things I don't care for, still love him though. I now know how tough it was for FDR growing up. I agree on waiting for marriage before sex yet couples should really open up about deeply personal problems they have but for the times it was not appropriate which made it hard for couples to work through. Also true love knows no age limit!!! Some people of well to do families had no idea of how a lot of families lived and just how hard life was for most. It was topics that were never discussed at the family table. Personally I never knew racism as a child, we treated 'everyone' the same, it wasn't until I was in 16 that I found out that other people did not approve of 'those' of a different persuasion. Yet even for a President who felt the same as I, He found out the hard way that some don't approve of 'others' who don't know their place on the social ladder. I will watch this many more times and learn something new each time I watch. Thank you Ken Burns.
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