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Burns Film Examines World War Two Through American Towns

Director Ken Burns talks about his new documentary, "The War," which takes an in-depth look at the effects of World War Two on four town across the United States.

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  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    Once again, Ken Burns is telling the story of a war…

  • RAY PITTMAN, Mobile, Alabama:

    I always looked around and wondered, "Now, how many men am I going to lose?"

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    … but this time, a war that's within the living memory of many Americans. In "The War," a seven-part, 15-hour PBS series, Burns offers a bottom-up version of America at home and abroad during World War II, not from the view of the generals or leaders, but of ordinary people.

  • KATHARINE PHILLIPS, Mobile, Alabama:

    We had started losing boys in the neighborhood. The boy up here on the corner was a Navy pilot, and he was killed. The boy down the street was an Air Force pilot, and he was missing in action. They just started disappearing all around us.

  • QUENTIN ANDERSON, Luverne, Minnesota:

    And I remember the impact it had on me when I could just see my bullets just tearing into them, and we had so much firepower that the bodies would fly some yards.

    And as I was doing this, I was doing it knowing I had to do it, that it was my job, this is what I had been trained to do. And I dealt with it fine. But when I got back home to the base in Normandy and landed, I got sick.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    The film has stirred significant controversy. In response to some criticism that no Hispanics or Native Americans were featured, Burns added scenes to the end of three of the episodes.

  • WORLD WAR II VETERAN:

    Well, they used to tell us that the Japanese couldn't see very far, but they could see far enough to kill you.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    Also, fearing potential FCC sanctions due to the graphic nature of the language in the film, PBS is offering stations a version that cuts out several uses of expletives. "The War" begins this Sunday night.

    And Ken Burns joins me now. Welcome to you.

  • KEN BURNS, Filmmaker:

    Thank you so much for having me.

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