April 6, 2011

Bearing Witness

Ken Burns' Civil War series is remarkable.  This is the first time I have had the time to sit and bear witness to the sacrifices and mastery of Burns' narrative and grasp of history.  Remarkable historians give their narrative of the war and adding both local color and insights.  Museums give their photographic views masterfully brought into life by Burns' ability to use static media to tell active tales.  Music and actors narrating heartbreaking and joyous stories.  The sweep is breathtaking.

I have some stake in this war and some stake in understanding how brilliant Burns' ability is.  My family fought on both sides and are died at places I could never fix in my mind -- The Wilderness Campaign, Chickamauga, Chancellorsville, and others.  Now I can see them.  I can see the skulls from the prior battles still lying on the ground that my ancestors must have fought at.  Chilling.  Truly chilling.  And Burns' ability not to sink into pathos and dismal stories is awesome.

Back in college, I assisted a history student in putting together a multi-media presentation together.  We pulled together music, narrated the snippets of history backing the photographs and making slides of the photos for the show.  These shows look simple, easy, but they are not.  Truly a depth of skills goes into them.

So sad, so sad, so sad though.

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