I'm sort of warming up today, had a long weekend that ended yesterday, haven't posted anything since Friday and I'm sort of trying to remember how (yes, its that bad). Saw the pics of the tornado that blew through Moore and I'm reminded how much more of this we're going to see as the world average temperatures slowly increase. Going to be a rough ride.
So for the time being I'll post another documentary - there are going to be a lot of these until I run out, particularly as I get through those which are ten episodes long.
Today's would be the doc that launched a thousand really crappy documentaries: The Civil War.
Ken Burns exploded onto the scene with this massive work that runs 680 minutes, and in the process pretty much defined the 'new way' to produce a documentary. The method had been done before, but not with nearly so much eloquence as Burns managed it ... but nevertheless he's been copied and copied by people who are absolute shit at producing documentaries. Burns managed to bring alive the Civil War with images and actors reading contemporary documents, seeded with experts giving commentary and a strong, well-applied soundtrack.
Burns himself was not able to duplicate the grand effort of the work, though he's tried and tried since. Whereas some works have been fairly decent - notably Baseball and America's Best Idea - by and large the depth of the work that was the Civil War hasn't been there. I think there are a couple of reasons for that. The strongest would be Shelby Foote:
I've read the book he wrote that was the backbone of the documentary and the man was an absolute genius. Never has a documentary had the benefit of so much good source material. Added to that would be the extraordinary diaries of others who were used in the film, George Templeton Strong and Elisha Hunt Rhodes (I love the 19th century use of all three names), both of which I've read through, being in the university library here in Calgary.
The use of maps and the use of art added a lot to my enjoyment of the series as well. The maps are well-rendered and clear, the descriptions of the battles involved and without rhetoric, and the overall feel of the documentary is a presentation of events without the need to comment overmuch on the morality of those events (there's a professor in the documentary that drives me crazy with her pontificating, but that can be overlooked).
|The Antietam Battlefield|
|The "Hornet's Nest" at Shiloh|