I happen to be an unabashed Ken Burns fan. The guy knows how to make history come alive. With the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, it’s time to drag out the epic Ken Burns’ produced series on DVD, and watch a few hours of the historical series about events that my ancestors knew personally – and all-too-well.
Now I see in a New York magazine article that Ken Burns is about to come out with a new documentary about Prohibition. That one sounds really interesting to me. So does a planned series on the history of County Music (I being a die-hard country music fan). Read the excerpts below to find out more about Burns’ upcoming documentaries.
Prohibition will be his 22nd documentary for PBS, a prolific partnership that started 30 years ago and gave birth to Burns’s most famous triptych— epics on the Civil War, baseball, and jazz that made him the country’s historian-in-residence. Stylistically, Prohibition is of a piece with the rest of his oeuvre. There’s the deliberate pace, the mix of detail-rich narration and readings of primary documents, and, of course, the iconic, slow-pan Ken Burns Effect. At five and a half hours spread over three nights, it’s also signature Burns in its sheer length. Burns wouldn’t make his documentaries any other way. “All meaning accrues in duration,” he says, offering the kind of observation that used to be called a koan and now would more likely be communicated via tweet.
Burns certainly likes his professional relationships long term, even if he carries on several at a time. After Prohibition comes an oral history of the Dust Bowl, in 2012. Then, in 2013, a project on the Central Park Five—the black and Latino teenagers who confessed to sexually assaulting the Central Park Jogger, then recanted, saying they’d only offered their confessions under duress. Then: a smaller film on Jackie Robinson, a megaseries on the Roosevelts, and a full dive into the Vietnam War, in 2016. He also recently started work on a history of country music, aiming to prove that it’s not nearly as red state as we all make it out to be.
Read the full article by Chadwick Matlin in the April 10, 2011 edition of nymag.com.