Ken Burns and Lynn Novick: The Vietnam War Is the Key to Understanding America
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Nick Gillespie interviews Ken Burns and Lynn Novick about their new documentary series: The Vietnam War.
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The Vietnam War led to more than 1.3 million deaths and it’s one of the most divisive, painful, and poorly understood episodes in American history. Documentarians Ken Burns and Lynn Novick have spent the past decade making a film that aims to exhume the war’s buried history. Their 10-part series, which premieres on PBS next week, is a comprehensive look at the secrecy, disinformation, and spin surrounding Vietnam, and its lasting impact on two nations. The 18-hour film combines never-before-seen historical footage, with testimonies from nearly 80 witnesses, including soldiers on both sides of the conflict, leaders of the protest movement, and civilians from North and South Vietnam. A two-time Academy Award winner, Burns is among the most celebrated documentary filmmakers of our time, best-known for the 1990 PBS miniseries The Civil War, which drew a television viewership of 40 million. He and Novick are longtime collaborators, and in 2011 she co-directed and produced with Prohibition with Burns. In 2011, Reason’s Nick Gillespie interviewed Burns that film and the role of public television in underwriting his work. With the release of The Vietnam War, Gillespie sat down with Burns and Novick to talk about the decade-long process of making their new film, and why understanding what happened in Vietnam is essential to interpreting American life today. Produced by Todd Krainin. Cameras by Meredith Bragg, Austin Bragg, Mark McDaniel, and Krainin.
This was a great interview. Whether you agree with Ken’s side or Nick’s, we can all agree that Vietnam was a cluster fuck. And we’re not going to make any progress if we can’t have a civil conversation and cooperate a little. I, for one, am pleased to see a PBS documentary discussed on Reason, and hope to see more like this.