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Charlemagne
Ok, The Civil War series was pretty good in places (although he basically ignored the Campaigns in the Western Theatre). Since there is only photographic evidence from the Civil War, Burns style worked to a degree. Still, if he pulls that hanging on a photograph while some celebrity reads a letter stunt throughout "The War", I think this series may prove to be unwatchable. Anyway, the BBC released a great documentary series on World War II and also there is the legendary "World At War" documentary which came out in the late 1960's. I can't picture Burns toppoing those.
Defbil
I'm willing to give Burns a pass on the errors in The Civil War- it was the first time someone made a doc like that about it, so some mistakes are to be expected.
I probably won't see much of the WWII doc on PBS, but I'm sure I'll take the DVD's out of the library once those come out. I can picture him doing a good job with it, but I can just as easily picture him going way over the top.
Charlemagne- you ever watch "The First World War- The Complete Series" by Channel Four (UK)? I like it, but admittedly I don't know a lot of the details of WWI.
Charlemagne
QUOTE(Defbil @ Sep 23 2007, 12:54 PM) *

I'm willing to give Burns a pass on the errors in The Civil War- it was the first time someone made a doc like that about it, so some mistakes are to be expected.
I probably won't see much of the WWII doc on PBS, but I'm sure I'll take the DVD's out of the library once those come out. I can picture him doing a good job with it, but I can just as easily picture him going way over the top.
Charlemagne- you ever watch "The First World War- The Complete Series" by Channel Four (UK)? I like it, but admittedly I don't know a lot of the details of WWI.



Well, let me ammend my post a bit. I think there will be some good moments with "The War" but Ken Burns has a way of making fascinating subjects annoying. I can just hear Tom Hanks reading some sentimenal letter right now. Even worse, I picture Doris Kearns Goodwin talking about seeing troops ships leaving for Europe. I didn't see that World War I documentary but I will look for it.
Charlemagne
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^^^^

Highly recommended
JodyThePig
QUOTE(Charlemagne @ Sep 23 2007, 01:00 PM) *

Well, let me ammend my post a bit. I think there will be some good moments with "The War" but Ken Burns has a way of making fascinating subjects annoying. I can just hear Tom Hanks reading some sentimenal letter right now. Even worse, I picture Doris Kearns Goodwin talking about seeing troops ships leaving for Europe. I didn't see that World War I documentary but I will look for it.

Burns is so intent on telling "real human stories" that I suspect The War will be a Greatest Generation 2.

If he handles Nazism the same way he handled slavery in his Civil War documentary, he'll likely present the Holocaust as representing just another aspect of political economy whose perpetrators should not be morally condemned.

Ken Burns is a soft and squishy jackass.
Charlemagne
QUOTE(JodyThePig @ Sep 23 2007, 01:17 PM) *

Burns is so intent on telling "real human stories" that I suspect The War will be a Greatest Generation 2.

If he handles Nazism the same way he handled slavery in his Civil War documentary, he'll likely present the Holocaust as representing just another aspect of political economy whose perpetrators should not be morally condemned.

Ken Burns is a soft and squishy jackass.



I am reading a great book by James McPearson (entitled "This Mighty Scourge) in which he details the histriography of the Civil War. Interesting how Charles Beard essentially gave the Confederacy a pass.
JodyThePig
QUOTE(Charlemagne @ Sep 23 2007, 01:42 PM) *

Interesting how Charles Beard essentially gave the Confederacy a pass.

Economic determinism = We're all Not Guilty.

Yick.
Atom Brain
Burns can be schlocky, no doubt, but there is a level of research in his movies that hardly ever occurs anymore. Say what you will about how he presents it, but his info is usually so solid that the biggest gripes people have is that he doesn't cover EVERYTHING, which is funny considering the length of many of his documentaries. No, he didn't cover much at all about the western campaign in The Civil War, but he covered the fuck out of most of the war...
Toady
QUOTE(JodyThePig @ Sep 23 2007, 12:17 PM) *

Burns is so intent on telling "real human stories" that I suspect The War will be a Greatest Generation 2.

I'm leery of this as well. However, in some interviews he's been asked exactly this question and he responded to the effect that he didn't want to celebrate or lionize it, but more wanted to present it as a tragedy of incomprehensible scale. Very few books or documentaries have been able to convey that tens of millions died without being either coldly statistical or treacly and sentimental.

If he actually pulls that off, it could be really good.
EricDoberman
I was pretty disappointed with Jazz.

The worst thing about it is that, now that Burns has done a long-format documentary on the idiom which satiated the "patron of the arts" community, it is unlikely that someone with a genuine understanding of the music will get the chance to do a good one in the future.

That he did a series of two to six year episodes on early jazz, only to cram 40 years of post-1960 jazz into a single episode, is a disgraceful slight to the AACM and many others.
dimenno
History and TV just don't mix.
Atom Brain
I'd also like to add that Baseball and Unforgivable Blackness are both very good documentaries as far as I'm concerned.
EricDoberman
QUOTE(Atom Brain @ Sep 23 2007, 05:24 PM) *

I'd also like to add that Baseball and Unforgivable Blackness are both very good documentaries as far as I'm concerned.

Agreed.

Sports history seems to be Burns' strong suit.
Atom Brain
QUOTE(EricDoberman @ Sep 23 2007, 05:33 PM) *

Agreed.

Sports history seems to be Burns' strong suit.


He seems more in his element describing things that are not life and death but have social relevances all the same.
Atom Brain
QUOTE(Charlemagne @ Sep 23 2007, 12:49 PM) *

Ok, The Civil War series was pretty good in places (although he basically ignored the Campaigns in the Western Theatre). Since there is only photographic evidence from the Civil War, Burns style worked to a degree. Still, if he pulls that hanging on a photograph while some celebrity reads a letter stunt throughout "The War", I think this series may prove to be unwatchable. Anyway, the BBC released a great documentary series on World War II and also there is the legendary "World At War" documentary which came out in the late 1960's. I can't picture Burns toppoing those.


So far this hasn't been anything like what you describe. I dig it a lot so far.
TheDanguardAce
Describing the U.S. soldiers as of 1941....

"They went to war wearing tin helmets, leggings issued in WW1 and rifles designed in 1903 ".

As opposed to what ? The Starfleet Phaser rifles the Japanese used? rolleyes.gif
Tin helmets ?
I had to turn it off.
Atom Brain
QUOTE(TheDanguardAce @ Sep 23 2007, 08:59 PM) *

Describing the U.S. soldiers as of 1941....

"They went to war wearing tin helmets, leggings issued in WW1 and rifles designed in 1903 ".

As opposed to what ? The Starfleet Phaser rifles the Japanese used? rolleyes.gif
Tin helmets ?
I had to turn it off.


So are you arguing they weren't using those rifles or that the majority of America already knew that soldiers were using weapons in 1941 that had been made almost 40 years earlier?
TheDanguardAce
QUOTE(Atom Brain @ Sep 23 2007, 09:14 PM) *

So are you arguing they weren't using those rifles or that the majority of America already knew that soldiers were using weapons in 1941 that had been made almost 40 years earlier?

Neither.
I'm saying its irrelevant since Both Japans and Germanys weapons were designed at the same time.
dillirgaff
QUOTE(TheDanguardAce @ Sep 23 2007, 09:28 PM) *

Neither.
I'm saying its irrelevant since Both Japans and Germanys weapons were designed at the same time.


but the jap swords were razor sharp
Atom Brain
QUOTE(TheDanguardAce @ Sep 23 2007, 09:28 PM) *

Neither.
I'm saying its irrelevant since Both Japans and Germanys weapons were designed at the same time.


He set up his point that the American army had dwindled to smaller than that of European countries the size of some of our states, and then added to it that, despite being one of the wealthiest nations in the world, America had armed that small army with weapons over three decades old. How is that irrelevant when making his point that America was not not only thinking about war, but was unprepared for it (thus setting up his next point that industry and recruitment had to then go into overdrive to make up for both the lack of soldiers but for out dated weapons)?
TheDanguardAce
QUOTE(dillirgaff @ Sep 23 2007, 09:32 PM) *

but the jap swords were razor sharp

smile.gif Of course.
Did you know Jap soldiers could lace palm fronds into a makeshift handglider and jump from tree to tree like a flying squirrel.
TheDanguardAce
QUOTE(Atom Brain @ Sep 23 2007, 09:35 PM) *

He set up his point that the American army had dwindled to smaller than that of European countries the size of some of our states, and then added to it that, despite being one of the wealthiest nations in the world, America had armed that small army with weapons over three decades old. How is that irrelevant when making his point that America was not not only thinking about war, but was unprepared for it (thus setting up his next point that industry and recruitment had to then go into overdrive to make up for both the lack of soldiers but for out dated weapons)?

Because it implies that they had nothing but rusted and broken junk. Of course nothing lasts forever but there are plenty of ww1 era rifles still shooting today.
The war was amazing by itself why sensationalize ?
Atom Brain
QUOTE(TheDanguardAce @ Sep 23 2007, 09:41 PM) *

Because it implies that they had nothing but rusted and broken junk. Of course nothing lasts forever but there are plenty of ww1 era rifles still shooting today.
The war was amazing by itself why sensationalize ?


How is it sensationalizing? One of the richest and most powerful nations in the world fails to keep up its army and its weapons and then is caught with its pants down when it gets bombed. Now add to that that I'm guessing a HUGE percentage of Americans didn't know that about the US army right before World War II (and Burns' films are meant for everyone).

Sorry, but while there are legitimate gripes against Burns already in this thread, you're eye rolling over the above is just piling on. There is no reason for that detail NOT to be in there. How is one sentence concerning the state of the US military right before Pearl Harbor sensationalizing?
Flipper
QUOTE(Atom Brain @ Sep 23 2007, 09:35 PM) *

He set up his point that the American army had dwindled to smaller than that of European countries the size of some of our states, and then added to it that, despite being one of the wealthiest nations in the world, America had armed that small army with weapons over three decades old. How is that irrelevant when making his point that America was not not only thinking about war, but was unprepared for it (thus setting up his next point that industry and recruitment had to then go into overdrive to make up for both the lack of soldiers but for out dated weapons)?


I haven't seen the Burns-o-mentary that you're all discussing here, but ....

That America was so markedly behind the curve in terms of armament, and the numbers game of a standing-ready military force, was at that point in history largely a function of a lack of need for these things, and a lack of national will for intervention in foreign conflict. Woodrow Wilson gave us our first taste in an inteventionist foreign policy (not based on immeadiate national interest) a few times (the foremost of which was our involvement in WWI) in then recent history, and the post WWI sentiment was one of a resounding national sentiment against further spending of blood and treasure in "foreign wars of peace"
while America could then enjoy vast, oceanic expanses between our percieved enemies, and a relative Pax Americana along our territorial borders.

WWII, and military technology developed by the industrial powers during that time, made the notion of a "Fortress America" forever.


TheDanguardAce
QUOTE(Atom Brain @ Sep 23 2007, 09:49 PM) *

How is it sensationalizing? One of the richest and most powerful nations in the world fails to keep up its army and its weapons and then is caught with its pants down when it gets bombed. Now add to that that I'm guessing a HUGE percentage of Americans didn't know that about the US army right before World War II (and Burns' films are meant for everyone).

Sorry, but while there are legitimate gripes against Burns already in this thread, you're eye rolling over the above is just piling on. There is no reason for that detail NOT to be in there. How is one sentence concerning the state of the US military right before Pearl Harbor sensationalizing?


He should have said what you just did.... " One of the richest and most powerful nations in the world fails to keep up its army and its weapons and then is caught with its pants down when it gets bombed "
then give a legit example.
dillirgaff
QUOTE(TheDanguardAce @ Sep 23 2007, 09:36 PM) *

smile.gif Of course.
Did you know Jap soldiers could lace palm fronds into a makeshift handglider and jump from tree to tree like a flying squirrel.

yes i did, i rembember the episode of McHale's navy when their "prisoner" taught them how to to foil Bingington
TheDanguardAce
QUOTE(dillirgaff @ Sep 23 2007, 11:08 PM) *

yes i did, i rembember the episode of McHale's navy when their "prisoner" taught them how to to foil Bingington

Damn nothings coming up on Youtube.
I gotta see that one.!
smcd
QUOTE(dillirgaff @ Sep 23 2007, 11:08 PM) *

yes i did, i rembember the episode of McHale's navy when their "prisoner" taught them how to to foil Bingington

Don't say Binghampton.


It's "Leadbottom".

smile.gif
smcd
QUOTE(TheDanguardAce @ Sep 23 2007, 08:59 PM) *

Describing the U.S. soldiers as of 1941....

"They went to war wearing tin helmets, leggings issued in WW1 and rifles designed in 1903 ".

As opposed to what ? The Starfleet Phaser rifles the Japanese used? rolleyes.gif
Tin helmets ?
I had to turn it off.

As opposed to the Japanese, who went to war wearing "tin" helmets, leggings issued in 1894, and rifles designed in 1905.






Burns does have an "America. FUCK YEAH!!" style.
Charlemagne
QUOTE(smcd @ Sep 23 2007, 11:38 PM) *

Don't say Binghampton.
It's "Leadbottom".

smile.gif



Speaking of McHale's Navy, does anyone rememeber when the series went to the European Theatre? What was up with that?
ShempTheOtherStooge
QUOTE(Atom Brain @ Sep 23 2007, 09:49 PM) *

How is it sensationalizing? One of the richest and most powerful nations in the world fails to keep up its army and its weapons and then is caught with its pants down when it gets bombed. Now add to that that I'm guessing a HUGE percentage of Americans didn't know that about the US army right before World War II (and Burns' films are meant for everyone).

Sorry, but while there are legitimate gripes against Burns already in this thread, you're eye rolling over the above is just piling on. There is no reason for that detail NOT to be in there. How is one sentence concerning the state of the US military right before Pearl Harbor sensationalizing?



The 1911 .45 pistol is still considered one of the finest self defense weapons in the world. Granted it's no longer standard issue in the military, but many guys carry one as their personal gun of choice.
Toady
That is what everyone is griping about? Anyone expecting Burns to be technically specific (or even competent) about weaponry is going to be disappointed.

How about the ridiculous "Freedom" music montage before the Carlson's Raiders segment (about the 2 hr mark). What the fuck was that? I was just about to say that Burns had done a fairly decent job so far and then that treacle came on.

While there's a lot of legitimate criticism to levy at MacArthur, Burns seemed to go out of his way to take some jabs at him.
dillirgaff
QUOTE(Charlemagne @ Sep 24 2007, 06:08 AM) *

Speaking of McHale's Navy, does anyone rememeber when the series went to the European Theatre? What was up with that?

what I was always confused with was in the movie there was a horse race, and i beleive the germans bombed it with smoke bombs, and they knew their horse won because it had blinders on, and no other horse did....
That and Ernest borgnine passed the Navy physicals
dillirgaff
QUOTE(Toady @ Sep 24 2007, 07:44 AM) *

That is what everyone is griping about? Anyone expecting Burns to be technically specific (or even competent) about weaponry is going to be disappointed.

How about the ridiculous "Freedom" music montage before the Carlson's Raiders segment (about the 2 hr mark). What the fuck was that? I was just about to say that Burns had done a fairly decent job so far and then that treacle came on.

While there's a lot of legitimate criticism to levy at MacArthur, Burns seemed to go out of his way to take some jabs at him.

he also seemed to go out of his way and not once but twice had Americans mention that they killed prisoners
Lollipop
There are soooo many things any one person could cover on a complicated subject like WWII that Burns is obviously going to fail in telling the 'whole' story for some. I give him points for being gutsy enough to take on such a big topic. Anyone that could do better, should.
terrydactyl
jesus!
with all that IS wrong with america today...

never document anything, ever!
TOPPER
QUOTE(dillirgaff @ Sep 24 2007, 07:53 AM) *

he also seemed to go out of his way and not once but twice had Americans mention that they killed prisoners

As if this were news? My father was in the Marines during wwII, and he said there was really no such thing as taking any Jap prisoners. After all the dirty fighting on Guadalcanal (playing dead, fake surrenders leading to ambush etc.), the Marines were basically told to take no prisoners, and to bayonet all Japs on the ground to make sure they were dead. They were dirty fighters, so we had to resort to that.
ShempTheOtherStooge
QUOTE(dillirgaff @ Sep 24 2007, 07:53 AM) *

he also seemed to go out of his way and not once but twice had Americans mention that they killed prisoners



Read Flyboys. Many references to the Japanese killing and eating American prisoners on Chichi Jima.
Dook of Oil
I thought the documentary was pretty good. I watched it in HD and I have to say if nothing else the combination of footage and photography really shown through. The stories from the survivor of the Battaan Death March was pretty good. It may not be all encompassing but it definitely isn't tripe.

Also as Flipper was saying - WWII set up the military-industrial complex you all bitch about today. If you learn from history you are less likely to repeat it.
RI chick
QUOTE(TheDanguardAce @ Sep 23 2007, 08:59 PM) *

Describing the U.S. soldiers as of 1941....

"They went to war wearing tin helmets, leggings issued in WW1 and rifles designed in 1903 ".

As opposed to what ? The Starfleet Phaser rifles the Japanese used? rolleyes.gif
Tin helmets ?
I had to turn it off.


That is one sentence taken from a complete narration describing how ill-prepared the soldiers were. If you find his style too dramatic, just watching the archival video he has managed to find and use in this doc makes it worth seeing. Also, the focus on how the war was perceived in four different US cities and the guys from those cities who describe their experiences in the war is really interesting. It's a verbal history that can't be denied or nit-picked for authenticity. There is zero melodrama when these guys matter-of factly talk about their time as soldiers in WWII. They decribe their backgrounds, reasons for going to war as well as what they did/saw/felt during wartime. Can't get any more real than that.

Also, one of the four cities in the documentary is Waterbury Ct, where I grew up. woohoo.
Atom Brain
QUOTE(TheDanguardAce @ Sep 23 2007, 10:00 PM) *

He should have said what you just did.... " One of the richest and most powerful nations in the world fails to keep up its army and its weapons and then is caught with its pants down when it gets bombed "
then give a legit example.


He did. He talked about how in spite of the country's wealth they had out dated equipment and a small army because people weren't interested in was after WWI. Then he went on to talk about how woefully unprepared we were for Pearl Harbor and then spoke next about recruitment drives and industrial manufacturing switching into high gear. For someone who is offended by the supposed stupidness of this documentary, you seem to want things spoon fed to you.
JodyThePig
QUOTE(Atom Brain @ Sep 24 2007, 04:06 PM) *

He did. He talked about how in spite of the country's wealth they had out dated equipment and a small army because people weren't interested in was after WWI. Then he went on to talk about how woefully unprepared we were for Pearl Harbor and then spoke next about recruitment drives and industrial manufacturing switching into high gear. For someone who is offended by the supposed stupidness of this documentary, you seem to want things spoon fed to you.

The US always lacked for basic military materiel during peacetime until the end of WWII.

Now we maintain our armed forces with advanced military technologies that are awesome in conventional warfare, but we haven't much engaged in conventional warfare since the end of WWII.
Dook of Oil
QUOTE(JodyThePig @ Sep 24 2007, 04:16 PM) *

The US always lacked for basic military materiel during peacetime until the end of WWII.

Now we maintain our armed forces with advanced military technologies that are awesome in conventional warfare, but we haven't much engaged in conventional warfare since the end of WWII.


JtP....your insight....Carson's Raiders...a 'guerilla' squad that may have helped turn the war around on guadalcanal....should we be using those tactics in Iraq?
TheDanguardAce
QUOTE(Atom Brain @ Sep 24 2007, 04:06 PM) *

He did. He talked about how in spite of the country's wealth they had out dated equipment and a small army because people weren't interested in was after WWI. Then he went on to talk about how woefully unprepared we were for Pearl Harbor and then spoke next about recruitment drives and industrial manufacturing switching into high gear. For someone who is offended by the supposed stupidness of this documentary, you seem to want things spoon fed to you.

Not spoon fed, I just know that rifle designs dont spoil after a week like milk does.
Whatever, I'll probably try watching it again.
JodyThePig
QUOTE(TheUnloved @ Sep 24 2007, 04:21 PM) *

JtP....your insight....Carson's Raiders...a 'guerilla' squad that may have helped turn the war around on guadalcanal....should we be using those tactics in Iraq?

I don't know who Carson's Raiders were, so I'll guess:

Yes?
Charlemagne
QUOTE(Lollipop @ Sep 24 2007, 07:58 AM) *

There are soooo many things any one person could cover on a complicated subject like WWII that Burns is obviously going to fail in telling the 'whole' story for some. I give him points for being gutsy enough to take on such a big topic. Anyone that could do better, should.



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Atom Brain
QUOTE(TheDanguardAce @ Sep 24 2007, 04:25 PM) *

Not spoon fed, I just know that rifle designs dont spoil after a week like milk does.



I know that a ton of young men enlisted after Pearl Harbor, but it's probably best he didn't leave that out either when trying to put things in context.
TheDanguardAce
QUOTE(Atom Brain @ Sep 24 2007, 05:18 PM) *

I know that a ton of young men enlisted after Pearl Harbor, but it's probably best he didn't leave that out either when trying to put things in context.

Yup.
Charlemagne
I thought I'd throw some Civil War stuff in here (since Burns is most famous for that documentary). As indicated, I am currently reading James McPhearson's latest book entitled, "This Mighty Scourge". Essentiallly, it is a compliation of writings he did in various journals and magazines in which he was responding to historians take on the Civil War. It is a terrific book and if you are interested at all in the Civil War, you should get it. Anyway, there is one segment in which he is detailing Lee's objectives going into Gettysburg. According to some historians, General Robert E. Lee accomplished all of his objectives when invading Pennsylvania. These historians also claim that for Lee, Gettysburg was a raid rather than an outright invasion and that the Union really only won a defensive victory. For these historians, Gettysburg is not a turning point for the South in anyway. I think the loss of Confederate soldiers though makes this argument kind of weak. I am pretty sure that McPearson will take to task these types of revisionist historians (although I haven't yet reached that point). Still, the book is full of these different arguments and debates that are going on with historians about the Civil War. The John Brown chapter was great too. The historiography of John Brown is fascinating and still changing (particular since the 1960's and also more recently in the post 9/11 world).
Charlemagne
QUOTE(RI chick @ Sep 24 2007, 11:30 AM) *

That is one sentence taken from a complete narration describing how ill-prepared the soldiers were. If you find his style too dramatic, just watching the archival video he has managed to find and use in this doc makes it worth seeing. Also, the focus on how the war was perceived in four different US cities and the guys from those cities who describe their experiences in the war is really interesting. It's a verbal history that can't be denied or nit-picked for authenticity. There is zero melodrama when these guys matter-of factly talk about their time as soldiers in WWII. They decribe their backgrounds, reasons for going to war as well as what they did/saw/felt during wartime. Can't get any more real than that.

Also, one of the four cities in the documentary is Waterbury Ct, where I grew up. woohoo.



Tin helmets is a tad melodramatic though. I don't think the American pot helmet that was introduced sometime in 1942 offered all that much more protection. To be fair, I am completely nit-picking.

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