Sneak preview of PBS' The War available online - VIDEO
Like everyone else, I'm looking forward to the end of summer reruns, and for the new fall season to kick off over the next several weeks. In addition to returning shows and new offerings from the networks and studios, I'm also quite interested in Ken Burns' new documentary for PBS, The War, which debuts on September 23 at 8:00 p.m. and is scheduled to air in seven parts. Check your listings for airtimes in your area.
I've been drawn to the idea of a lengthy documentary about World War II partially for the historical aspect, but moreso because of the human aspect. Growing up, my exposure to that era was through films featuring rugged heroes and clean, bloodless battles. Combine this with the solipsism inherent in all young people, and the result is a skewed --if not completely false-- perspective on what it was really like to be alive during that era, not only for the soldiers on the battlefields overseas, but also for the people back home.
Without getting too wrapped up in my own profundity, I think one of the milestones of becoming an adult is abandoning the false notion that you're the center of the universe, which is something my grandparents' generation had to learn at a young age when I myself was still a child in almost every since of the word. I've mentioned this documentary on this blog before, and some left comments praising Burns' style while others called him a terrible documentarian. I'll admit I haven't watched anything of his since The Civil War in the early 90s, but what draws me to his new documentary is not so much the style in which its made, but the fact that we're hearing about WWII from people who actually experienced it. No, Burns isn't the first person to have veterans tell of their experiences, but that generation isn't going to be around forever, and I admire this attempt to preserve their stories for posterity.
Below I've placed a half-hour, first-look at The War. It's not a "preview," per se, but rather a synopsis of what to expect, and some background on how the documentary was made. You can also click here if you'd rather watch it on YouTube.