America, America - the Films of Ken Burns is a Documentary programme.
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America, America - the Films of Ken Burns
This profile of Ken Burns, hailed as America's greatest documentary filmmaker, comes before his latest historical film series, jazz. The film finds Ken Burns at his home in the beautiful New Hampshire town of Walpole, an intimate township of white-painted clapperboard Colonial houses, built mostly around the end of the 18th century, in the oldest settled part of America.
Here he talks about the formative influences of his early life and his decision to become a filmmaker; and of how his mother's death from a long-suffered cancer cast a shadow over his life and continues to inform his fascination with history and the art of bringing the past back to life through his filmmaking.
He talks about the three monumental series that form a trilogy of American history-Jazz, Baseball and The Civil War. Each series is epic in scope and duration and has taken, on average, five years to product. They have been broadcast to huge critical and popular acclaim, winning numerous awards.
Ken takes viewers on a journey through Walpole and the beautiful wooded hills surrounding the township, revealing the signs of the Native American past which captivated his imagination on the very first day of his arrival in 1979, and reflects on over 20 years of making documentaries in the peace and tranquility of his adopted home.
He says of jazz: "Jazz becomes a story of two world wars and a devastating Depression and a soundtrack that got America through the worst times. It's a story about sex, the way men and women talk to one another in music- a sort of complicated and sophisticated and elegant ritual of courtship, a mating call that has all but disappeared out of our popular music. It's about drug abuse and the terrible cost of addiction; it's about those great cities and of course, principally, hugely, most importantly, about race."
Running Time: 30 minutes (approx)
Database last updated: 23 January - 20:26