Ken Burns' "THE CIVIL WAR" still stands as the best historical documentary, thus far. But, "THE WAR: A KEN BURNS FILM," isn't that far behind! With so much more data, photos, film footage, letters and other documentation of the events surrounding WW2 as well as the impact it had on so many lives, it would be impossible to encapsulate it into even a 15 hour mini-series. So, Burns has opted to focus on four American Towns and the lives impacted by the war on their residents left behind, as well as their inhabitants off to war. It's a device that brings an immediacy to the viewer and it feels as real as it should feel, and is!
Former soldiers help breathe life into their memories by sometimes, allowing the viewer to observe them try to understand their actions right in front of us, apparently unrehearsed. It's powerful and sobering.
For so many, including this reviewer, who have forgotten or never understood the significance of Guadalcanal and other strategic, harrowing events, "THE WAR" brings it home with brilliant clarity, much more powerfully than a typical college history class could.
Spanning 15 hours over 7 episodes on 6 discs, "THE WAR" comes in a well manufactured boxed set.
PBS/PARAMOUNT has provided the correct 1.78:1 aspect ratio with 16:9 enhancement. The image is excellent, Of course, the footage varies in quality, sometimes terrific, sometimes, scratched and worn, but it's the real stuff and it's as good as it gets! The stills utilized and scanned over tend to be of high quality.
A 2.0 and 5.1 mix are offered. The Dolby Digital 5.1 mix is surprisingly effective. Of course, Burns has offered a great score from Wynton Marsalis that's well complimented throughout. But, there are numerous surround and ambient effects, heightening the impact to many scenes. It's a great mix! Dialogue is always intelligible and well balanced. There is also the option for captioning for those wanting to better understand the names of certain areas being discussed.
Burns and his producer offer commentary on several episodes and there are various extras offered on all discs, including featurettes and more.