- SKU: 25981248
- Release Date: 09/24/2013
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In this excellent documentary, the controversial life and political career of Louisiana governor and state senator Huey P. Long is admirably covered from all possible angles. Director Ken Burns does not spare the politician's personal corruption nor ignore his critics while citing the benefits he brought to his dirt-poor state during his tenure in office (1928-1935). Mendacious and charismatic from the beginning, Long was trained in law and made his way to the gubernatorial mansion by first becoming railroad commissioner. Long's oratory shines forth in archival footage, interviews with family and critics lay bare the private and public persona, and commentary fills in a context and a background on the man and his times. (History has always held that Long was assassinated by Dr. Carl Weiss in the State Capitol building on the night of Sept. 8, 1935. New evidence put together in the 1990s suggests that Weiss was framed.) ~ Eleanor Mannikka, Rovi
Ken Burns' America: Brooklyn Bridge
Fresh out of college, aspiring filmmaker Ken Burns (The Civil War, Baseball) read David McCullough's history of the building of the Brooklyn Bridge and decided that the labyrinthine tale of tragic setbacks and incredible engineering feats would be the perfect subject for a documentary film. As he experimented with ways of bringing the story to life, Burns, a Brooklyn native himself, developed innovative techniques that would later become his trademark -- using a moving camera over still photographs, having first-person accounts such as diaries and letters read aloud, and taking the time to create exquisite live cinematography of his subject. The result is an emotional and visually stunning account of one of the most ambitious building projects in American history -- a rare treat for history and film buffs alike. ~ Sarah Welsh, Rovi
Ken Burns' America: The Congress
Renowned documentary-maker Ken Burns uses archival film clips, interviews, newspaper stories, and journals to bring the story of the U.S. Congress and the characters involved in its fascinating and sometimes dubious history to life. The film explores the popularly-elected Legislative branch of our government and observes its modes of functioning, along with its past and present strengths and weaknesses. Famous historical figures who served as Congressmen (Henry Clay, Daniel Webster, and others) are featured, as are contemporary members and events. Burns uses his skills to draw our sometimes admiring, sometimes skeptical attitudes toward this group of power-entrusted individuals into full perspective, pointing out the valuable role the Congress is designed to serve - potentially providing balance in extreme situations or weighted political atmospheres. ~ Alice Duncan, Rovi
Ken Burns' America: The Shakers
Under the official title of the United Society of Believers in Christ's Second Coming, the Shakers created one of the most fascinating and idiosyncratic religious movements in American history. In this engrossing volume of the seven-part series America, renowned documentary filmmaker Ken Burns brings to life the unique confluence of history, politics, and dynamic personalities that made this phenomenon possible and that make it symbolic of all that America is and was. Out of the many experimental utopian communities that migrated to America in hopes of finding religious freedom, the Shakers may be the only one to have made a lasting impression upon both the scholarly and the popular imagination. Known to many only for their stunning and influential furniture design, the Shakers were a commune strictly devoted to ideals of work, communal property, celibacy, and prayer. Don't miss this in-depth look at America's religious past. ~ Sarah Welsh, Rovi
Ken Burns' America: Thomas Hart Benton
Documentarian Ken Burns, better known for his epic studies of the Civil War and of Baseball, here explores the life and works of one of the hallmark painters of the U.S., Thomas Hart Benton (1889-1975). He is most famous for his ability to evoke the vast rolling spaces of the Great Plains, and for his murals and other large works depicting life and work in rural America. He is the namesake and grand-nephew of the unusually well-remembered U.S. Senator from Missouri, whose career was intertwined with that of President Andrew Jackson. Benton the painter was born in Neosho, Missouri, started his art career as a newspaper cartoonist, and then studied in Paris and Europe. For a while, his work reflected the fashionable avant garde syles of painting, including cubism, but the work for which he is best remembered combines his earlier gift at cartooning in a realistic style which might be called "neo-realism." The period which saw the greatest proliferation of his work was the 1930's. Though later his works were collected and displayed at major museums, and one of his students went on to considerable fame himself (Jackson Pollock), his works were not critically acclaimed during his lifetime, in part due to his extreme homophobia and disdain for the New York art scene, and he has his detractors even today. The documentary includes interviews with Benton's wife, with critics and museum curators, and features many of his paintings. Also included are scenes from Benton's home movies. ~ Clarke Fountain, Rovi
Ken Burns' America: Empire of the Air - The Men Who Made Radio
Adapted from Tom Lewis' best-selling book, this documentary by premier historic filmmaker Ken Burns examines the legendary figures who took the small-scale hobby of radio and turned it into a major industry -- not to mention a revolutionary force for social change. Empire of the Air recreates the compelling drama through the stories of three important men: Edwin Howard Armstrong, the inventor of the FM system and of AM receivers practical for widespread use; Lee de Forest, the eccentric who almost got patents on a series of groundbreaking new technologies and who also championed the cultural uses of broadcasting; and David Sarnoff, the Russian immigrant who would create NBC and become president of RCA. Narrated by Jason Robards, this inside look at the science, the squabbles, and the entrepreneurial genius behind the modern communications age features interviews, archival footage, insightful commentary, and Ken Burns' characteristic and deeply felt emotional drama. ~ Sarah Welsh, Rovi
Ken Burns' America: The Statue of Liberty
This excellent documentary on one of America's most well-known national symbols was nominated for an Academy Award in 1985. Director (Ken Burns) details the perilous history of the Grand Dame, the difficulties in creating her in a Paris suburb and shipping her to New York, and then the heated arguments that arose Stateside as to whether or not she should even be set up in New York's harbor. Pity the dedicated French sculptor Auguste Bartholdi who created her with infinite care, a topic covered by photographs and narration in the first segment of the film. As famous immigrants comment on the meaning of the Statue of Liberty to themselves, it is noted that at the time of her inauguration in 1886 her 152-ft. height on top of a 150-ft. pedestal made her the tallest structure in the U.S. Director Burns quite fairly points out that to some Americans, including Afro-Americans, the Statue of Liberty does not necessarily raise her torch for everyone equally. Nevertheless, The Statue of Liberty is an entertaining documentary by any measure. ~ Eleanor Mannikka, Rovi