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The War - A Film By Ken Burns and Lynn Novick
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The Emmy® award-winning documentary THE WAR explores the history and horror of World War II from an American perspective by following so-called ordinary men and women who became caught up in one of the greatest cataclysms in history. This epic film focuses on the stories of citizens from four American towns taking the viewer through their personal and harrowing journeys, painting vivid portraits of how the war altered their lives.
Creating epic documentaries about war is nothing new for Ken Burns, nor is the subject of the Second World War, which never ceases to be a popular subject of films and TV shows. Yet with The War, Burns has definitely succeeded in breaking new ground, exploring in depth the effect of the war on common Americans, and not just the soldiers of The Greatest Generation that fought it. As the narration says at the beginning, "The war affected people in every house, on every street in every town in America." This is nothing less than an attempt to show how the war altered the lives of an entire nation through the portrayal of four individuals from four communities--Waterbury, Connecticut; Mobile, Alambama; Luverne, Minnesota; and Sacramento, California--that could represent any town in the country that went through the war. The result is another stunning achievement for Burns and co-director Lynn Novick. Together the filmmaking team succeeds in bringing the war home through the testimonies, letters, and footage of the people from these towns. The storytelling is compelling--Burns and Novick manage to find the most vivid, intimate, and personal dimensions of a global catastrophe--and brought to life with exceptional voice work from marquee stars like Tom Hanks, Alan Arkin, and Samuel L. Jackson. Much of the footage is brilliantly restored; even the most die-hard History Channel buff will see clips here that they've never viewed before. Many old grainy family films look almost as clean and bright as if they were just shot using a modern camera with black-and-white film (keeping in mind that most of the footage was shot without sound, the audio effects work on The War is particularly impressive and should bring attention to the underappreciated work of the foley artist). It took Burns and Novick six years to make this seven-part, 15-hour film--not surprising, really, considering the miles of footage they must have accumulated in the course of their research--and the time and effort shows in the results. The DVD also includes a making-of featurette, deleted scenes, extensive commentaries, and more, in addition to a companion book, The War: An Intimate History. --Daniel Vancini
- Aspect Ratio : 1.78:1
- Is Discontinued By Manufacturer : No
- MPAA rating : s_medNotRated NR (Not Rated)
- Product Dimensions : 7.75 x 5 x 1.25 inches; 14.4 Ounces
- Item model number : 841887052122
- Director : Ken Burns, Lynn Novick
- Media Format : Multiple Formats, Anamorphic, Widescreen, Subtitled, NTSC
- Run time : 15 hours
- Release date : October 2, 2007
- Dubbed: : English
- Language : English (Dolby Digital 5.1), Unqualified
- Studio : PBS
- ASIN : B000R7NBMK
- Number of discs : 6
- Best Sellers Rank: #9,023 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
- Customer Reviews:
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Top reviews from the United States
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Born in 1961, I feel privileged to have been able to view the many sides of this war. So many of us had relatives who fought in this war. I am unable to adequately demonstrate my appreciation for every single one of our country's noble unsung heroes.
The War captures nearly every nuance that occurred in those tumultuous years, and does that especially well with the personal recollections from ordinary people caught up in the war. Unlike so many World War II histories, this one is not some glorifying, propagandizing, sanitized recount of events. It shows, often in gruesome and bloody detail that can be outright uncomfortable, the mistakes, miscalculations, brutalities, and horror that occurs in the "fog of war." The War also shows how ordinary citizens mustered the bravery, fortitude, and common sacrifice necessary to surmount and survive the many difficult circumstances of World War II.
My parents were of the Greatest Generation--my father served in the Navy in both the Mediterranean and the Pacific theaters and my mother worked in defense industries and the Office of Emergency Management stateside during the war. I learned a lot about the war from them and yet more from this mini-series. The one thing that they told me that The War touched upon but did not emphasize enough, in my opinion - the feeling that pervaded almost every American almost until the end of World War II that "If we don't do everything that we can in every way, we could lose this war," as my Mom put it. That is a lesson that modern day Americans should take to heart from this well-presented history. We soon may be there again in world events. Will we have the courage and determination of the Americans during World War II? I hope so, but I have my doubts.
Just as an advisory note, especially for parents: there is no sugarcoating here, so be advised that certain passages recounting episodes of particular brutality can be very hard to watch.
Top reviews from other countries
In this series he's very much telling the story of the American WWII experience, centring the narrative around four towns and a number of folks from those places, including those who went to war, and those left at home. And Burns and Novick don't just tell the tale of Americans of European ancestry, but also, for example, Japanese Americans, obviously quite interesting in relation to Pearl Harbour and the Pacific theatre.
The music used is absolutely terrific. I bought the Civil War OST, and I think I'll be buying this one, as well. The music not only enhances the emotional impact, deepening the poignancy, but is just sublimely beautiful in itself. It's not just a soundtrack, but a contribution to contemporary culture in itself.
And the unfolding of the American story of the war itself is brilliant. So far it's early days in the Pacific, whilst the US is gearing up for war on a massive scale at home, the economy booming as a result, and the inexperienced troops get a bloody nose in North Africa. There's a lot more to come. And I can tell I'm going to really love it.