Sunday, September 23, 2007

A war to weary the soul -- and the viewer

How do you approach a 16-hour Ken Burns documentary about World War II? If you're me, you start off with a gratuitous "Simpsons" reference:
There's a joke in an old "Simpsons" episode called "Kamp Krusty" that kept running through my head as I watched Ken Burns' World War II documentary "The War." It's the last day of school at Springfield Elementary, and as the kids stream out of class, one teacher calls them back and exclaims, "Wait a minute! You didn't learn how World War II ended!" The kids pause with bated breath for the answer, and the teacher tells them, "We won!" The kids all cheer and run off to play.

If that's one extreme of World War II education, then "The War" represents another extreme. The film, co-directed by Burns and Lynn Novick, is 16 hours told in seven chapters over two weeks. Some of it is moving, some enlightening, some frustrating, but all of it feels very, very long.

To read the full thing, click here.


Anonymous said...

Just watched the first one and your review feels very accurate. I'm not really sure what the point of view of the documentary is and it feels a little unfocused due to that. An episode in, it feels like a collection of anecdotes loosely structured around the war's timeline.

TL said...

Thanks for that review; I now feel better about taking a pass. BTW, what happened to Latinos and Native Americans in WWII -- They Won! -- hilarious.