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via 'The Vietnam War'

"The Vietnam War," a 10-part, 18-hour documentary by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick, premieres on PBS on Sunday, Sept. 17. Watch the trailer. Two great preview pieces that are worthy of your time:

"Ken Burns's American Canon: Even in a fractious era, the filmmaker still believes that his documentaries can bring every viewer in," by The New Yorker's Ian Parker:

There are more Vietnamese voices in "The Vietnam War" than Burns at first thought necessary. ... It has animated three-dimensional maps and foreign-language interviews. There's rock music, as well as a score commissioned from Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross; Erik Ewers, a longtime editor at Florentine, who has worked on dozens of hours of film chivvied along by ragtime and bluegrass, told me, with feeling, that the opportunity to use "Dazed and Confused," by Led Zeppelin, was "a dream come true."

The film includes striking sequences in which well-known black-and-white photographs, always central to Burns's work, coëxist with color film and color photography. The subject, being recent and contested—and its traumas sometimes evident in the stiffness around the mouths of witnesses—has its own narrative potency. ... Still, when the narration begins, its liturgical phrasing, and its reach for a negotiated settlement among viewers, will seem familiar.

Savor the whole thing.

In "Ken Burns Tackles a Different Civil War," N.Y. Times ideas reporter Jennifer Schuessler says the film "offers an uncannily well-timed reflection of our current societal fractures — a kind of origin story for the culture wars."

  • "The $30 million film, more than 10 years in the making, offers an intensely immersive, often head-spinning history lesson, combining grand sweep and archival depth with sometimes devastatingly emotional first-person interviews with people from all sides (including more than two dozen Vietnamese, from both the winning and losing sides)."
  • "There are scenes covering 25 battles, 10 of which are examined from multiple perspectives."
  • "Every word of the script, written by the historian Geoffrey C. Ward, was carefully weighed. And perhaps none were as carefully debated as that opening narration, which describes the war as ending in 'failure' (not 'defeat,' Mr. Burns noted, though he used the word himself). 'I think we probably spent six months on the word 'failure.'"
  • "As for 'begun in good faith,' Mr. Burns said he stands by those words, which he said reflect the intentions of those who fought the war, even if they are perhaps 'too generous' to our leaders."
  • Worth the click: "Shot by Shot: Building a Scene in Ken Burns and Lynn Novick's Vietnam Epic."

Go deeper

Why made-for-TV moments matter during the pandemic

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photos: Erin Schaff-Pool, Biden Inaugural Committee via Getty Images

In a world where most Americans are isolated and forced to laugh, cry and mourn without friends or family by their side, viral moments can offer critical opportunities to unite the country or divide it.

Driving the news: President Biden's inauguration was produced to create several made-for-social viral moments, a tactic similar to what the Democratic National Committee and the Biden campaign pulled off during the Democratic National Convention.

Updated 8 hours ago - World

Over 3,000 detained in protests across Russia demanding Navalny's release

Russian police officers beat protestesters at a rally against of jailing of oppositon leader Alexei Navalny in Moscow on Saturday. Photo: Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images

Police in Russia on Saturday arrested more than 3,300 people as protesters nationwide demanded that opposition leader Alexey Navalny be released from jail.

Details: Demonstrations began in the eastern regions of Russia and spread west to more than 60 cities.

Updated 10 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Arizona Republicans censure Cindy McCain and GOP governor

Combination images of Cindy McCain and Gov. Doug Ducey. Photo: FilmMagic/FilmMagic for U.S.VETS/Michael Brochstein/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Arizona Republican Party members voted on Saturday to censure prominent GOP figures Cindy McCain, Gov. Doug Ducey and former Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), who've all faced clashes with former President Trump.

Why it matters: Although the resolution is symbolic, this move plus the re-election of the Trump-endorsed Kelli Ward as state GOP chair shows the strong hold the former president has on the party in Arizona, despite President Biden winning the state in the 2020 election.

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