TITLE: Ken Burns' "The War" Press Conference
SPEAKER: Ken Burns
EVENT DATE: 04/17/2007
FORMAT: Video + Captions
RUNNING TIME: 61 minutes
TRANSCRIPT: View Transcript (link will open in a new window)
The Library of Congress and the Veterans History Project held a joint press conference with PBS and Florentine Films to announce a partnership in connection with "The War," Ken Burns's World War II documentary television series.
Speaker Biography: After earning his bachelor's degree at Hampshire College, Brooklyn-born Ken Burns pursued a career as a documentary filmmaker. At age 22, he formed Florentine Films in his home base of Walpole, N.H. Dissatisfied with dry, scholarly historical documentaries, Burns wanted his films to "live," and to that end adopted the technique of cutting rapidly from one still picture to another in a fluid, linear fashion. He then pepped up the visuals with "first hand" narration gleaned from contemporary writings and recited by top stage and screen actors. Burns' first successful venture was the award-winning documentary "The Brooklyn Bridge," which ran on public television in 1981. While he was Oscar-nominated for his 1985 theatrical release "The Statue of Liberty," Burns' work has enjoyed its widest exposure on television: such films as "Huey Long" (1985), "Thomas Hart Benton" (1986) and "Empire of the Air" (1991) (a bouquet to the pioneers of commercial radio) have become staples of local PBS stations' seasonal fund drives. In 1990, Burns completed what many consider his "chef d'oeuvre": the eleven-hour "The Civil War," which earned an Emmy (among several other honors) and became the highest-rated miniseries in the history of public television. "Civil War" was the apotheosis of Burns' master mixture of still photos, freshly shot film footage, period music, evocative "celebrity" narration and authentic sound effects. In 1994, he released his long-awaited "Baseball," an 18-hour saga which, like "The Civil War," was telecast at the same time as the publication of a companion coffee-table book.