Wednesday, August 10, 2011

American documentary filmmaker Ken Burns at MOHAI

I recently had the opportunity to attend a preview for Ken Burns’ upcoming 3 part documentary, Prohibition, at MOHAI. Although it was only a ~15 minute clip, it intrigued me to say the least. I do not recall seeing any of Ken Burns’ other works, such as The Civil War or Baseball, so I was not sure what to be prepared for. It turns out that he seems to be a very traditional documentary filmmaker. He strives to be very historically accurate and to take an objective stance on the subject mater. Burns combines historical footage and interviews with historians and authors to further this accuracy.

I cannot help but compare him to Errol Morris, another documentary filmmaker (Have you seen The Thin Blue Line?), who is not as traditional. Morris seems to be more interested in allowing the audience to go through the facts and choose how they feel about the topic. He chooses to use reenactments of an event; however, changes them as actual testimonies are being told. Quite the opposite of Ken Burns, I would say.

I appear to be a fan of both filmmakers and would recommend Ken Burns’ Prohibition (airs in October on KCTS) and Errol Morris’ recently released film, Tabloid (I have only seen the trailer, but ended up researching it further, and it looks super interesting! And also my professor said it was great), and The Thin Blue Line if you have yet to see it (we have it in the Media Center).

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