Saturday, July 22, 2006

Ken Burns:



The New York Times has an article on the FCC controversy surrounding "The War," the long-awaited (when are Ken Burns' docs not long-awaited?) Burns (that's what I'm calling his films from now on, "Burns," because they're beyond documentaries, films, miniseries or even epics, they're just "Burns") documents a "soldier's eye-view of World War II," according to the NYT story.

He's never taken on any disinteresting, or uninteresting, topic, in my eyes. The dude even made me curious about the Civil War, which always took a backseat to curiosity about the Revolutionary War, for me. Taken in slow, measured doses, his work is some of the finest in documentary, or hell even creative non fiction, history.

The particular controversy alluded to in the NYT story is regarding the Burns' "salty language appropriate to discussions of the horrors of war." Burns just shows what he shows and doesn't mean any unseemingly material as vulgar, just as accurate and nakedly true. The FCC, naturally, is as pesky about obscenity complaints nowadays as a hoodrat is ordering dine-in at a Chick Fil A (EXACTLY half lemonade, half fruit punch? EXACTLY? Only quarter-filled with ice? You must be out of your goddamn mind...)

ANYWAY, my thoughts were pretty much expressed in the last two graphs of the story.
As for 'The War,' [Margaret Drain, the vice president for national programs at WGBH in Boston,] called it 'the perfect test case for the F.C.C., because who's going to take on veterans of this country who put their lives at risk for an honest, just cause?'

'It’s not pornographic; it’s not scatological,' she said. 'It’s an emotional expression of a reality they experienced, and it’s part of the historical record.'
"The War" hasn't yet shown up on his IMDb filmography, which surprised me a lot. Usually IMDb is up on these things. I'm pretty stoked now that I know about it.

In other TV documentary news: Spike Lee isn't even bothering to release his Katrina documentary to theaters, though I figured Inside Man's relatively high gross might allow him to do that. HBO produced it, so most people (including me) won't even see it until it hits DVD. I hope he ships it to film festivals near the coast, though, so displaced New Orleanians can see this movie in a theater, together.

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