A Few Words About A few words about...™ Prohibition -- in Blu-ray

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by Robert Harris, Oct 18, 2011.

  1. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    I don't know how he does it.


    Ken Burns' CV keeps getting larger, and it only contains quality product.


    It all seems to have begun back in 1981 with Brooklyn Bridge, a 58 minute film which became the foundation for what would become the Florentine dynasty.


    I'm a huge fan of documentaries, at least the really good ones, and in the following three decades, Mr. Burns has created some of the best -- not only of the past 30 years, but of the past century.


    The Florentine style is so specific that it has been turned into something called the "Ken Burns Effect," for its means of panning and zooming still images, thereby bringing them to life. You'll find it in Final Cut software.


    Beyond the look, the overall photographic textures and camera movements, there is constant intelligence in writing, and in the selection of imagery, and narrative voices and witnesses. Everything seems to flow as if it was just meant to be that way.


    While there are some wonderful documentarians among those who challenge us to understand and appreciate history, there is only one Ken Burns.


    Take a look at his creations:


    Brooklyn Bridge - 1981 (America Collection)

    The Shakers - 1984 (America Collection)

    The Statue of Liberty - 1985 (America Collection)

    Huey Long - 1985 (America Collection)

    Thomas Hart Benton - 1988 (America Collection)

    The Congress - 1988 (America Collection)

    The Civil War (a 9 episode mini-series) -1990

    Empire of the Air: The Men Who Made Radio - 1991 (America Collection)

    The West (a 4 episode mini-series) - 1996

    Thomas Jefferson (a 3 episode mini-series) - 1997 (American Lives)

    Lewis & Clark - 1997 (American Lives)

    Frank Lloyd Wright - 1998 (American Lives)

    Not for Ourselves Alone: The Story of Elizabeth Cady Stanton & Susan B. Anthony - 1999 (American Lives)

    Jazz (a 10 episode mini-series) - 2001

    Mark Twain - 2001 (American Lives)

    Horatio's Drive: America's First Road Trip - 2003 (American Lives)

    Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson - 2004 (American Lives)

    The War (a 7 episode mini-series) 2007

    The National Parks: America's Best Idea (a 6 episode mini-series) - 2009

    Baseball (an 11 episode mini-series) - 1994-2010

    Prohibition (a 3 episode mini-series) - 2011


    Over twenty documentaries of the highest order which are all, fortunately, available for viewing in your home theater - some gathered together in boxed sets, and others, those of longer length, in their own packaging. All through PBS.


    As my viewing pile seems to grow daily, I was going to spot-check Prohibition for quality, just to make certain -- as if it might not -- that it was up to the normal Florentine quality.


    It was.


    And for the next 3 hours, I sat spellbound, as history played out on the screen before it. Two evenings later, I viewed the rest of the 6 hour documentary.


    Along the way I learned that although my perception was that I knew and understood the background and fallout of prohibition, which lasted from 1920 into the earliest Roosevelt years in 1933.


    While those preceding over our great nation have made a few mistakes over the past two plus centuries, this one was a doozy. It makes the rescinding of the public domain laws toward the GATT Treaty, in which people and companies lost tens of millions of dollars, and led to the destruction of many rare film elements seem tame in comparison.


    While prohibition seems not to have slowed the problems of alcoholism, it brought about the rise of organized crime, and a loss of respect for American law.


    Ken Burns' and Lynn Novick's Prohibition continues the Florentine ethic of quality. It educates while it entertains. And it becomes a wonderful new addition to those films that came before it.


    The Blu-ray from PBS, like the programming encoded therein, is flawless, and at $35, a bargain.


    Like the previous Florentine films, Prohibition has a certain class, elegance and professionalism about it, that makes it a must see.


    Very Highly Recommended.


    RAH
     
  2. Richard Gallagher

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    I totally agree with you. As I wrote in my review, I was astonished to learn how much I did not know about prohibition.
     
  3. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    I've slightly expanded the notes above annotating which 14 films are available in two boxed sets, which is the way to purchase these.


    I might add, that although we're not discussing the work of Ric Burns in this piece, one should not overlook his quality documentaries.


    RAH
     
  4. ajabrams

    ajabrams Second Unit

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    I might add, that although we're not discussing the work of Ric Burns in this piece, one should not overlook his quality documentaries.


    RAH

    [/quote] Yes, I agree. I particularly love Ric Burns' documentary about Coney Island -- amazing material and it really makes me wish I had a "time machine." I believe it's still available from PBS as well.
     
  5. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    Yes, I agree. I particularly love Ric Burns' documentary about Coney Island -- amazing material and it really makes me wish I had a "time machine." I believe it's still available from PBS as well.[/quote]

    PBS is very good at keeping things in print. Going a bit further afield, another quality PBS series was Chicago - City of the Century, part of their American Experience series, from filmmaker Austin Hoyt.


    RAH
     

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