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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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    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?"


    … 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.


    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.


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


    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.