"On Sunday, September 23rd, at 8 p.m., exactly 17 years to the moment after our series on the Civil War was first aired, PBS will begin broadcasting our most recent film on the American experience in the Second World War, entitled simply The War," explains filmmaker Ken Burns. "It is a bottom-up look at the greatest cataclysm in American history, in human history, focusing on the experiences of so-called ordinary people, most of whom come from four geographically distributed American towns: Waterbury, Connecticut; Mobile, Alabama; Sacramento, California; and Luverne, Minnesota. In pursuing this, for us, completely different new approach, we believe it is possible at moments to get a sense of what actually happened in that war. Not the good war of our imagination and subsequent public relations and sentimentality, but the worst war ever, responsible for the deaths of nearly 60 million human beings, what it was like to be in battle and, for some, to work and worry and wait and grieve back home."
This in-depth miniseries fills up 15 hours with incredible interviews, film clips, documentation and everything needed for viewers to get a good idea of what people experienced during those tumultuous years. America's involvement began on December 7, 1941 with the bombing of Pearl Harbor.
"I guarantee, though most of the interviews were done before the invasion of Iraq, there'll be many times you'll be thinking about Iraq, you'll be thinking about Abu Ghraib. It's just the way it happens," explains Burns.
Although the film chronicles the war abroad, it also focuses on what was happening at home during those years. "I'd say about 25 or 30 percent of the film is back home. And it's so interesting that we've yet to run into a documentary that covers both the European and the Pacific theaters simultaneously with the homefront and doing it chronologically." This film is an intense look at the years of World War II - the battles, the people, and the world at that time.
The film focuses on four areas of the country which are basically just average towns. Viewers will see what those towns and the people went through while the soldiers were off fighting the battles, as well as what the soldiers experienced.
Needless to say, this is a long film, but it is a comprehensive look at the time. The accompanying soundtrack is a moving collection of the music that was selected to go along with the video. And, if you are truly interested in this time in history - and we should all be - the book The War - An Intimate History is beautifully illustrated and an in-depth look at the years 1941-1945. This companion to the TV series is something you will refer back to over and over again. It's a piece of history at your fingertips. Written by Ken Burns and Geoffrey C. Ward, this is something students will be able to use in school, and for those of us who are out of school, it's another good look at World War II.
The War will air over two weeks, beginning Sunday, September 23, 2007 - four nights the first week and three nights the second week - from 8:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. (8:00 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. on three nights.)