The Civil War (TV series)
|The Civil War|
|Country of origin||USA|
|No. of seasons||1|
|No. of episodes||9|
|Running time||690 minutes/11 hours 30 minutes (9 episodes)|
|Production company(s)||American Documentaries Inc.
Kenneth Lauren Burns Productions
|Original airing||September 23–27, 1990|
The Civil War is a documentary film created by Ken Burns about the American Civil War. It was first broadcast on PBS on five consecutive nights from September 23 to September 27, 1990. Approximately 40 million viewers watched it during its initial broadcast, making it the most-watched program ever to air on PBS. It was subsequently awarded more than 40 major television and film honors. The film was remastered on the twelfth anniversary of its release, and a book following the movie has also been released.
Ken Burns was inspired to make this documentary because of Mathew Brady's photographs. More than 10 hours in length, the documentary has nine episodes that explore the Civil War through personal stories and photos. During the creation of the movie, Burns made extensive use of over 16,000 archival photographs, paintings, and newspaper images from the time of the war. This resulted in the coining of the term the "Ken Burns effect".
He combined these images with contemporary cinematography, music, narration by David McCullough, anecdotes and insights from authors such as Shelby Foote, historians Barbara J. Fields, Ed Bearss, and Stephen B. Oates; and actors reading contemporary quotes from historical figures such as Abraham Lincoln, Mary Chesnut, Robert E. Lee, Ulysses S. Grant, Walt Whitman, Stonewall Jackson, and Frederick Douglass. A large cast of actors voiced correspondence, memoirs, news articles, and stood in for historical figures from the Civil War.
Burns also interviewed Daisy Turner, then a 104-year-old daughter of an ex-slave, whose poetry features prominently in the series. Turner died in February 1988, a full two and a half years before the series aired.
The film took five years to produce, longer than the four years it took to fight the Civil War, which lasted from April 12, 1861, when the Confederacy attacked Fort Sumter, South Carolina, until April 9, 1865, when General Robert E. Lee surrendered at Appomattox Court House, Virginia.
The theme song of the documentary is the instrumental "Ashokan Farewell", which is heard twenty-five times during the film. The song was composed by Jay Ungar in 1982 and he describes it as "a Scottish lament written by a Jewish guy from the Bronx." It is the only modern piece of music heard in the film. It became so closely associated with the series that people frequently and erroneously believe it was a Civil War song. Ungar, his band Fiddle Fever and pianist Jacqueline Schwab performed this song and many of the other 19th century songs used in the film.
The major piece of vocal music in the series is a version of the old spiritual "We Are Climbing Jacob's Ladder", performed a cappella by the African American singer, scholar and activist Bernice Johnson Reagon and several other female voices. The song appears on Reagon's album River of Life.
- Narrated by David McCullough
- Sam Waterston as Abraham Lincoln
- Julie Harris as Mary Chesnut
- Jason Robards as Ulysses S. Grant
- Morgan Freeman as Frederick Douglass∗
- Paul Roebling as Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain
- Garrison Keillor as Walt Whitman∗
- George Black as Robert E. Lee
- Arthur Miller as William Tecumseh Sherman∗
- Chris Murney as Elisha Hunt Rhodes
- Charley McDowell as Sam Watkins
- Horton Foote as Jefferson Davis
- George Plimpton as George Templeton Strong
- Philip Bosco as Horace Greeley
- Terry Courier as George B. McClellan
- Jody Powell as Stonewall Jackson∗
- Studs Terkel as Benjamin Butler∗
- Hoyt Axton as various
- Colleen Dewhurst as various
- Shelby Foote as various
- Ronnie Gilbert as various
- Jeremy Irons as various
- Derek Jacobi as various
- Kurt Vonnegut as various
- Laurence Fishburne as various, credited as Larry
- Pamela Reed as various
- M. Emmet Walsh as various
∗ Indicates performer voiced other characters as well.
Sam Waterston, who voiced Abraham Lincoln here, later played Thomas Jefferson in Burns' films about Jefferson and the Lewis and Clark Expedition. In 2011, Waterston made an appearance as a voiceover again in Burns' miniseries, Prohibition.
|No.||Episode||Original air date|
|1||"The Cause" (1861)||September 23, 1990|
|Prologue; THE CIVIL WAR Series Title; The Cause; All Night Forever; Are We Free?; A House Divided; The Meteor; Secessionitis; 4:30 a.m. April 12, 1861; Traitors and Patriots; Gun Men; Manassas; A Thousand Mile Front; Honorable Manhood|
|2||"A Very Bloody Affair" (1862)|
|Prologue; THE CIVIL WAR Series Title; 1862 A Very Bloody Affair; Politics; Ironclads; Lincolnites; The Peninsula; Our Boy; Shiloh; The Arts of Death; Republics; On To Richmond|
|3||"Forever Free" (1862)|
|Prologue; THE CIVIL WAR Series Title; 1862 Forever Free; Stonewall; The Beast; The Seven Days; Kiss Daniel For Me; Saving the Union; Antietam; The Higher Object|
|4||"Simply Murder" (1863)|
|Prologue; THE CIVIL WAR Series Title; 1863 Simply Murder; Northern Lights; Oh! Be Joyful; The Kingdom of Jones; Under the Shade of the Trees; A Dust-Covered Man|
|5||"The Universe of Battle" (1863)|
|Prologue; THE CIVIL WAR Series Title; 1863: The Universe of Battle; Gettysburg: The First Day; Gettysburg: The Second Day; Gettysburg: The Third Day; She Ranks Me; Vicksburg; Bottom Rail On Top; The River of Death; A New Birth of Freedom|
|6||"Valley of the Shadow of Death" (1864)|
|Prologue; THE CIVIL WAR Series Title; 1864: Valley of the Shadow of Death; Grant; Lee; In the Wilderness; Move By the Left Flank; Now, Fix Me; The Remedy|
|7||"Most Hallowed Ground" (1864)|
|Prologue; THE CIVIL WAR Series Title; 1864: Most Hallowed Ground; A Warm Place in the Field; Nathan Bedford Forrest; Summer, 1864; Spies; The Crater; Headquarters U.S.A.; The Promised Land; The Age of Shoddy; Can Those Be Men?; The People's Resolution; Most Hallowed Ground|
|8||"War Is All Hell" (1865)|
|Prologue; THE CIVIL WAR Series Title; War Is All Hell; Sherman's March; The Breath Of Emancipation; Died Of A Theory; Washington, March 4, 1865; I Want to See Richmond; Appomattox|
|9||"The Better Angels of Our Nature" (1865)|
|Prologue; THE CIVIL WAR Series Title; The Better Angels Of Our Nature; Assassination; Useless, Useless; Picklocks Of Biographers; Was It Not Real?|
Reception and awards 
The series has received more than 40 major film and television awards, including two Emmy Awards, two Grammy Awards, Producer of the Year Award from the Producers Guild of America, People's Choice Award, Peabody Award, duPont-Columbia Award, D.W. Griffith Award, and the US$50,000 Lincoln Prize, among dozens of others.
Enough historians were critical of the series that editor Robert Brent Toplin responded with a book in 1997 titled Ken Burns's The Civil War: Historians Respond which gives voice to several historians as well as responses from Ken Burns and others involved in the series' production.
2002 remastering 
The entire series was digitally remastered in 2002. The soundtrack was also remixed. Paul Barnes, Editor & Post-Production Supervisor, Florentine Films at that time commented:
"Ken Burns and I decided to remaster The Civil War for several reasons. First of all when we completed the film in 1989, we were operating under a very tight schedule and budget. As the main editor on the film, I always wanted to go back and improve the overall quality of the film. The other reason for remastering the film at this time is that the technology to color correct, print and transfer a film to video for broadcast has vastly improved, especially in the realm of digital computer technology... We also were able to eliminate a great deal of the dust and dirt that often get embedded into 16mm film when it is printed." The DVD release included a short documentary on how a Spirit DataCine was used to transfer and remaster the film.
The remastering was limited to producing an improved fullscreen SD digital video of the source 16mm film, for broadcast and DVD; no widescreen/HD/Blu-ray versions are available.
A soundtrack featuring songs from the miniseries, many of which were songs popular during the Civil War, has been released.
|1.||"Drums of War"||Old Bethpage Brass Band||0:10|
|2.||"Oliver Wendell Holmes"||Paul Roebling||0:32|
|3.||"Ashokan Farewell"||Jay Ungar, Matt Glasser, Evan Stover, Russ Barenburg, Molly Mason||4:05|
|4.||"Battle Cry of Freedom"||Jacqueline Schwab||1:40|
|5.||"We Are Climbing Jacob’s Ladder"||Bernice Johnson Reagan||4:27|
|6.||"Dixie/Bonnie Blue Flag"||New American Brass Band||1:57|
|7.||"Cheer Boys Cheer"||New American Brass Band||1:12|
|8.||"Angel Band"||Barenburg, Jesse Carr||1:07|
|9.||"Johnny Has Gone for a Soldier"||Schwab, Carr||1:44|
|11.||"Parade"||New American Brass Band||3:30|
|12.||"Hail, Columbia"||New American Brass Band||2:06|
|13.||"Dixie (reprise, lament)"||Bobby Horton||2:06|
|14.||"Kingdom Coming"||Glaser, Stover, Ungar, Art Baron, Mason||1:01|
|15.||"Battle Hymn of the Republic"||Ungar, Schwab||1:38|
|16.||"All Quiet on the Potomac"||Schwab||1:12|
|17.||"Flag of Columbia"||Schwab||1:03|
|18.||"Weeping Sad and Lonely"||Glasser, Schwab, Carr||1:10|
|19.||"Yankee Doodle"||Old Bethpage Brass Band||0:41|
|20.||"Palmyra Schottische"||New American Brass Band||3:30|
|21.||"When Johnny Comes Marching Home"||Old Bethpage Brass Band||0:45|
|22.||"Shenandoah"||John Levy, John Colby||0:47|
|23.||"When Johnny Comes Marching Home (reprise)"||Ungar, Yonatin Malin, Schwab, Mason, Peter Amidon||1:00|
|24.||"Marching Through Georgia"||Ungar, Mason, Amidon||0:57|
|25.||"Marching Through Georgia (reprise, lament)"||Schwab||1:14|
|26.||"Battle Cry of Freedom (reprise)"||Schwab||2:33|
|27.||"Battle Hymn of the Republic (reprise)"||Abyssianian Baptist Choir||3:22|
|28.||"Ashokan Farewall/Sullivan Ballou letter"||Ungar, Roebling, David McCullough||3:34|
See also 
- Ward, Geoffrey C.; Burns, Ric; Burns, Ken (1992) [First published 1991]. The Civil War: An Illustrated History. New York: Knopf. ISBN 978-0679742777.
- 'The Civil War': Ken Burns documentary airing on PBS for 150th anniversary of war
- Ashokan FAQ
- Episode Descriptions retrieved 2009-11-02
- PBS Why we decided to Re-master the The Civil War
- Why we decided to remaster retrieved 2009-11-02.