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PBS Presents 'Vietnam War' Documentary From Burns and Novick

8 Jun, 2017 By: John Latchem

PBS Distribution will release the upcoming documentary The Vietnam War, directed by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick, on DVD and Blu-ray Sept. 19. The program will air on PBS starting Sept. 17 and will also be available for digital download.

The immersive narrative presents the story of the Vietnam War through the testimony of nearly 100 witnesses, including Americans who fought in the war and others who opposed it, as well as Vietnamese combatants and civilians from both the winning and losing sides.

The documentary, which was 10 years in the making, includes rarely seen, digitally remastered archival footage, photographs taken by some of the most celebrated photojournalists of the 20th century, historic television broadcasts, evocative home movies, and revelatory audio recordings from inside the Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon administrations. The documentary was written by Geoffrey C. Ward and produced by Sarah Botstein, Novick and Burns.

The Vietnam War runs about 1080 minutes on 10 discs. The DVD ($99.99) and Blu-ray ($129.99) includes more than 100 minutes of bonus materials, including a 45-minute preview program, two pieces on the contemporary lives of two of the participants, and other extras.

“The Vietnam War was a decade of agony that took the lives of more than 58,000 Americans,” Burns said. “Not since the Civil War have we as a country been so torn apart. There wasn’t an American alive then who wasn’t affected in some way — from those who fought and sacrificed in the war, to families of service members and POWs, to those who protested the war in open conflict with their government and fellow citizens. More than 40 years after it ended, we can’t forget Vietnam, and we are still arguing about why it went wrong, who was to blame and whether it was all worth it.”

“We are all searching for some meaning in this terrible tragedy. Ken and I have tried to shed new light on the war by looking at it from the bottom up, the top down and from all sides,” Novick said. “In addition to dozens of Americans who shared their stories, we interviewed many Vietnamese on both the winning and losing sides, and were surprised to learn that the war remains as painful and unresolved for them as it is for us. Within this almost incomprehensibly destructive event, we discovered profound, universal human truths, as well as uncanny resonances with recent events.”

The Vietnam War features new music from Academy Award-winning composers Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, Grammy Award-winning cellist Yo-Yo Ma and The Silk Road Ensemble, and longtime Florentine Films composers David Cieri and Doug Wamble. The program also spotlights more than 120 songs from the era, including tracks from The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, Simon & Garfunkel, Janis Joplin, Ben E. King, Phil Ochs, Donovan, Johnny Cash, Barry McGuire, Buffalo Springfield, The Byrds, Otis Redding, Santana, Joni Mitchell, Nina Simone, The Temptations, Booker T. and the M.G.s, Pete Seeger and more.

The film will be accompanied by an outreach and public engagement program; an interactive website; and an educational initiative designed to engage teachers and students through multiple platforms, including PBS LearningMedia.

A companion book will be available Sept. 5.

About the Author: John Latchem

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