The US Civil War (1861-1865) continues to evoke fascination and interest in the minds of Americans and others. The war was a struggle of ideas – slavery, states’ rights, freedom, national unity. Each of these ideas had been fiercely contested in political debates in the decades preceding the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States. His election was seen as the last straw by those people who felt that slavery should be permitted to exist, and by those people who felt that federal legislation should not be used to strike down the laws of individual states. As states seceded from the Union to join the new Confederate States of America, the passions of many others were aroused that felt that the ideals and cohesion of the wider United States of America needed to be preserved by armed force.
The bloody struggle that followed helped to define the modern American character.
Films, documentaries and novels have been written to capture the spirit of the struggle – or at least, how later generations perceived the spirit of the Civil War to have been. The documentary format is part audio-visual and part factual through the heavy use of archival type resources.
|The Civil War||Type||Documentary (9 episodes)|
|Overview||Inspired by contemporary photographs, Ken Burns created a documentary series that evoked the passions of the time by allowing long dead individuals to speak through their photographs, diaries, documents etc. In contrast to many to many other historical documentaries, Burns’ sensitive use of archival records to re-tell the human stories ensnares rather than numbs the watcher.The episodes re-tell the Civil War in chronological order. Each episode is focussed on a specific battle or topic, and each is in turn divided into a series of chapters that allow the watcher to be drawn into the detail of the story.|