The Civil War

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The Civil War , the award-winning film produced and directed by Ken Burns that first aired in September 1990, will be rebroadcast over five consecutive nights to coincide with the 150 th anniversary of the start of the Civil War this April. The Civil War began when shots were fired on Fort Sumter in South Carolina on April 12. As a result of the confrontation, four more states seceded from the Union, joining the seven that left in February of that year to create the Confederacy.

The Civil War was a milestone in the history of documentary film and television,” John F. Wilson, SVP & chief TV programming executive at PBS said. “When The Civil War premiered, the nation became increasingly riveted by the story and the filmmaking. To date, it remains the highest-rated series in the history of American public television. Twenty-one years later, the re-mastered film remains relevant and modern. The storytelling and use of music, experts and personal narratives, along with a stunning collection of period photographs, are just as poignant today as when it premiered.”

The Civil War attracted an audience of 40 million during its premiere in September 1990. The New York Times called it a masterpiece and said that Ken Burns ”takes his place as the most accomplished documentary filmmaker of his generation.“ Tom Shales of The Washington Post said, “This is not just good television, nor even just great television. This is heroic television.” The columnist George Will added, “If better use has ever been made of television, I have not seen it and do not expect to see better until Ken Burns turns his prodigious talents to his next project.” The series has been honored with more than 40 major film and television awards, including two Emmy Awards, two Grammy Awards, Producer of the Year Award from the Producers Guild, People's Choice Award, Peabody Award, duPont-Columbia Award, D.W. Griffith Award and the Lincoln Prize, among dozens of others.

While Burns had directed and produced other award-winning films prior to The Civil War , including his first feature film, the Academy Award-nominated The Brooklyn Bridge (1981), The Civil War quickly became the standard for historic documentaries.

“Prior to The Civil War , my colleagues and I toiled in relative anonymity,” Burns said. “While we still work as a small group in a small town in New Hampshire, The Civil War created a new thirst for history and stories about America that has allowed us to explore a wide range of topics. I think the interest in The Civil War grew out of Americans longing to understand their past, the pretty and the ugly, and the desire to tap into the past to create a better sense of who we are as a people and a place. Today, as we reflect on the Civil War on the 150 th anniversary of the start of battle, I'm very proud that our small film continues to help us understand the magnitude of that conflict, the impact it had on individuals, families and towns large and small, and the ongoing place it holds in our collective memory.”

The series will air Sunday-Thursday, April 3-7, 2011, at 8 p.m. on Eight, Arizona PBS.

The Civil War is narrated by David McCullough and includes the voices of Sam Waterston (Abraham Lincoln), Julie Harris (Mary Chesnut), Jason Robards (Ulysses S. Grant), Morgan Freeman (Frederick Douglass), Paul Roebling (Joshua L. Chamberlain, etc.), Garrison Keillor (Walt Whitman, etc), George Black (Robert E. Lee), Arthur Miller (William T. Sherman), Chris Murney, (Pvt. Elisha Hunt Rhodes), Charley McDowell (Pvt. Sam Watkins), Horton Foote (Jefferson Davis), George Plimpton (George Templeton Strong), Philip Bosco (Horace Greeley, etc. ), Terry Courier (George McClellan), Jody Powell (Stonewall Jackson, etc.) and Studs Terkel (Benjamin F. Butler).

Others who provided voices include Derek Jacobi, Pamela Reed, Jeremy Irons, Ronnie Gilbert Kurt Vonnegut, Colleen Dewhurst, Hoyt Axton and Shelby Foote.

The Civil War was directed by Ken Burns; produced by Ken Burns and Ric Burns; written by Geoffrey C. Ward, Ric Burns and Ken Burns; edited by Paul Barnes, Bruce Shaw and Tricia Reidy; cinematography by Ken Burns, Allen Moore and Buddy Squires; coordinating producer Catherine Eisele; associate producer Lynn Novick; co-producers Stephen Ives, Julie Dunfey and Mike Hill.

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