Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Television Spotlight: The Roosevelts: An Intimate History

Photo source: PBS

Last night I had the great opportunity to attend a screening and Q&A event at the US embassy in London. The screening was held in advance of the showing of  Ken Burns' The Roosevelts: An Intimate History series that will be shown here in the UK on PBS America. The Q&A session featured documentary filmmaker Ken Burns and actor Stanley Tucci. We were shown some excerpts from the 14 hour series and it made me excited to see the full series when it starts to air here on October 19th. It was so interesting to hear these two discuss the creative process in general and also how Burns does what he does.

Ken Burns is known for his exceptional documentaries and I have enjoyed many of them over the years. His films truly make history come alive. You're learning while you're being entertained. Burns' films always help me see beyond what may be written in a history book. He does a great job of making the humanity of people show through. The Roosevelts: An Intimate History looks like another excellent offering by Ken Burns and getting a chance to hear from him directly during the Q&A session was amazing. He described some of the process that he goes through in the making of each film, which can take years to complete just one.

I've always been especially interested in Eleanor Roosevelt because she has always struck me as a woman who was ahead of her time. It will be a great treat to see the full series and get a look at Eleanor Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Theodore Roosevelt's lives with a much fuller examination of the lesser known details of their lives.

One thing that I love about Ken Burns' documentaries are the readings that he includes from the letters and writings of people throughout history. He gets some wonderfully talented people who use their voices to bring the voices that are now silent alive again. In The Roosevelts: An Intimate History he uses the voices of Paul Giamatti, Edward Herrmann, Meryl Streep, Patricia Clarkson, Adam Arkin, Philip Bosco, Keith Carradine, Ed Harris, John Lithgow, Carl Lumbly, and Billy Bob Thornton.

The Roosevelts: An Intimate History has already taken America by storm with much critical acclaim and popularity among viewers. When the first episode of the series premiered there recently, nine million people watched and it came in second in the ratings to football. That's a testament to the interest and to the quality of this story.

Here are some recent quotes that have been in the press about the series:

“Within the first hour, “The Roosevelts” will probably have you hooked.”
    Hank Stuever, The Washington Post, September 12, 2014

“[Ken Burns] continues to illuminate American history with extraordinary fervor.”
   Matt Roush, TV Guide, September 12, 2014

Those are only a couple of the numerous quotes, but the praise for this amazing series continues to grow. I think that when it premieres here in the UK in October it will be well-received also. I know that I'll definitely be watching!

The Roosevelts: An Intimate History will begin on Sunday, October 19th on PBS America in the UK at 8pm and every Sunday night at the same time until completion on Sky channel 534 and Virgin Media 243.

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