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About the Film
THE VIETNAM WAR is a ten-part, 18-hour documentary film series directed by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick that will air on PBS in September 2017.
In an immersive 360-degree narrative, Burns and Novick tell the epic story of the Vietnam War as it has never before been told on film. THE VIETNAM WAR features testimony from nearly 80 witnesses, including many Americans who fought in the war and others who opposed it, as well as Vietnamese combatants and civilians from both the winning and losing sides.
Six years in the making, the series brings the war and the chaotic epoch it encompassed viscerally to life. Written by Geoffrey C. Ward, produced by Sarah Botstein, Novick and Burns, it includes rarely seen, digitally re-mastered archival footage from sources around the globe, photographs taken by some of the most celebrated photojournalists of the 20th Century, historic television broadcasts, evocative home movies, revelatory audio recordings from inside the Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon administrations and more than 100 iconic musical recordings by many of the greatest artists of the era.
The film will be accompanied by an unprecedented outreach and public engagement program, providing opportunities for communities to participate in a national conversation about what happened during the Vietnam War, what went wrong and what lessons are to be learned. In addition, there will be a robust interactive website and an educational initiative designed to engage teachers and students in multiple platforms.
About the Filmmakers
Director Ken Burns has been making documentary films for almost 40 years. Since the Academy Award-nominated 'Brooklyn Bridge' in 1981, Burns has gone on to direct and produce some of the most acclaimed historical documentaries ever made, including 'The Civil War', 'Baseball' and 'Jazz'. More...
Director Lynn Novick is an Emmy and Peabody Award-winning documentary filmmaker. For nearly 30 years, she has been producing and directing films about American history and culture, among them some of the most acclaimed and top-rated documentaries to have aired on PBS. Her films include 'Prohibition', 'Baseball', 'Jazz', 'Frank Lloyd Wright' and 'The War'. More...
Producer Sarah Botstein has been producing award-winning documentaries at Florentine Films since 1997. She recently produced 'The Vietnam War', co-directed by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick. She is also producing a two-part biography of Ernest Hemingway, slated for broadcast in 2020. More...
Writer Geoffrey C. Ward has collaborated with Ken Burns since 1984 and has been the sole or principal script writer for, among others, 'The Civil War', 'Baseball', 'The West', 'Jazz' and 'The War'. Ward also wrote or co-wrote companion volumes for seven of these series. More...
Episode 01. "Déjà Vu" (1858-1961)
After a long and brutal war, Vietnamese revolutionaries led by Ho Chi Minh end nearly a century of French colonial occupation. With the Cold War intensifying, Vietnam is divided in two at Geneva. Communists in the north aim to reunify the country, while America supports Ngo Dinh Diem's untested regime in the south. (Original Air Date: September 17, 2017) WATCH @ PBS.ORG
Episode 02. "Riding the Tiger" (1961-63)
President Kennedy inspires idealistic young Americans to serve their country and wrestles with how deeply to get involved in South Vietnam. As the increasingly autocratic Diem regime faces a growing communist insurgency and widespread Buddhist protests, a grave political crisis unfolds. (Original Air Date: September 18, 2017) WATCH @ PBS.ORG
Episode 03. "The River Styx" (January 1964-December 1965)
With South Vietnam in chaos, hardliners in Hanoi seize the initiative and send combat troops to the south, accelerating the insurgency. Fearing Saigon's collapse, President Johnson escalates America's military commitment, authorizing sustained bombing of the north and deploying ground troops in the south. (Original Air Date: September 19, 2017) WATCH @ PBS.ORG
Episode 04. "Resolve" (January 1966-June 1967)
Defying American airpower, North Vietnamese troops and materiel stream down the Ho Chi Minh Trail into the south, while Saigon struggles to ”pacify the countryside." As an antiwar movement builds back home, hundreds of thousands of soldiers and Marines discover that the war they are being asked to fight in Vietnam is nothing like their fathers' war. (Original Air Date: September 20, 2017) WATCH @ PBS.ORG
Episode 05. "This Is What We Do" (July 1967-December 1967)
American casualties and enemy body counts mount as Marines face deadly North Vietnamese ambushes and artillery south of the DMZ and Army units chase an elusive enemy in the central highlands. Hanoi lays plans for a massive surprise offensive, and the Johnson Administration reassures the American public that victory is in sight. (Original Air Date: September 21, 2017) WATCH @ PBS.ORG
Episode 06. "Things Fall Apart" (January 1968-July 1968)
On the eve of the Tet holiday, North Vietnamese and Viet Cong forces launch surprise attacks on cities and military bases throughout the south, suffering devastating losses but casting grave doubt on Johnson's promise that there is ”light at the end of the tunnel." The president decides not to run again and the country is staggered by assassinations and unrest. (Original Air Date: September 24, 2017) WATCH @ PBS.ORG
Episode 07. "The Veneer of Civilization" (June 1968-May 1969)
Public support for the war declines, and American men of draft age face difficult decisions and wrenching moral choices. After police battle with demonstrators in the streets of Chicago, Richard Nixon wins the presidency, promising law and order at home and peace overseas. In Vietnam, the war goes on and soldiers on all sides witness terrible savagery and unflinching courage. (Original Air Date: September 25, 2017) WATCH @ PBS.ORG
Episode 08. "The History of the World" (April 1969-May 1970)
With morale plummeting in Vietnam, President Nixon begins withdrawing American troops. As news breaks of an unthinkable massacre committed by American soldiers, the public debates the rectitude of the war, while an incursion into Cambodia reignites antiwar protests with tragic consequences. (Original Air Date: September 26, 2017) WATCH @ PBS.ORG
Episode 09. "A Disrespectful Loyalty" (May 1970-March 1973)
South Vietnamese forces fighting on their own in Laos suffer a terrible defeat. Massive U.S. airpower makes the difference in halting an unprecedented North Vietnamese offensive. After being re-elected in a landslide, Nixon announces Hanoi has agreed to a peace deal. American prisoners of war will finally come home – to a bitterly divided country. (Original Air Date: September 27, 2017) WATCH @ PBS.ORG
Episode 10. "The Weight of Memory" (March 1973-Onward)
While the Watergate scandal rivets Americans' attention and forces President Nixon to resign, the Vietnamese continue to savage one another in a brutal civil war. When hundreds of thousands of North Vietnamese troops pour into the south, Saigon descends rapidly into chaos and collapses. For the next 40 years, Americans and Vietnamese from all sides search for healing and reconciliation. (Original Air Date: September 28, 2017) WATCH @ PBS.ORG
'The Vietnam War: Original Score' Track List
Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross Detail 'The Vietnam War' Documentary Score (Rolling Stone Magazine)
Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross have detailed their score for the upcoming Ken Burns documentary The Vietnam War.
The score, featuring 17 tracks spread across two discs or three LPs, will be released on September 15th, two days before the 10-part series debuts on PBS. The Oscar-winning duo recorded 90 minutes worth of new music for the documentary.
"The sheer scale of the project combined with the magnitude of the subject matter was initially daunting for us, but the commitment, care and reverence they displayed made the experience deeply satisfying on many levels," Reznor and Ross previously said in a statement.
In addition to the original score, Burns and his co-director Lynn Novick curated two discs worth of music from the Vietnam War era on an accompanying two-disc collection titled The Vietnam War: The Soundtrack. The compilation features music by Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, Otis Redding, Marvin Gaye, Cream and dozens more.
"The Vietnam War era produced some of the greatest, most impactful music ever recorded. We are grateful that so many artists from the period wanted to be part of the film and now the soundtrack," Burns and co-director Lynn Novick said in a statement on the Nine Inch Nails site (via Stereogum).
"We were equally fortunate to have had the tremendous honor to work with Trent and Atticus. Their original score beautifully complements the music from the time. And we are absolutely thrilled that our audiences will now have the chance to own the original score along with some of the best music from the film."
'The Vietnam War: The Soundtrack' Track List
Extended Look Trailer (2m00s)
"No Single Truth" (0m30s)
Why Vietnam (3m30s)
Sights & Sounds (8m41s)
In Country (4m30s)
Unsettled History (2m30s)
Echoes of Vietnam (5m15s)
Consulting with Ken Burns & Lynn Novick (2m00s)
First Look Clips:
"Save Us" (0m30s)
"Social Change Was Coming" (0m20s)
"Combat Is an Enormous High" (0m30s)
"At Great Cost" (0m30s)
"Profound Sense of Humanity" (0m30s)
"The Fear Went Away" (0m30s)
"Cowards or Heroes" (0m30s)
"Expanding the Draft" (0m30s)
"Shot Right Here" (0m30s)
"Vietnamese vs. Vietnamese" (0m30s)
"Everybody's Special" (0m30s)
"Finishing School" (0m55s)
"Christmas Bombing" (2m00s)
Ken Burns and Lynn Novick Tackle the Vietnam War (The New York Times)
Why 'The Vietnam War' Is Ken Burns and Lynn Novick's Most Ambitious Project Yet (Vanity Fair)
Ken Burns Never Knew How Wrong He Was About the Vietnam War; Working On His New Film Was "A Daily Humiliation." (Mother Jones)
'The Vietnam War': An interview with Ken Burns and Lynn Novick (Salon)
Ken Burns' New Documentary Exposes the Emotion Behind the Vietnam War (Newsweek)
Making 'The Vietnam War': Documenting Destruction (USA Today)
Ken Burns' ‘Vietnam War' Sparks International Interest (Variety)
'The Vietnam War': Inside Ken Burns' 18-Hour Doc on the Era-Defining Conflict (Rolling Stone)
The People We Forget When We Remember the Vietnam War (Mother Jones)
Ken Burns: How Vietnam War sowed the seeds of a divided America (The Guardian)
TV Review: Ken Burns' Documentary ‘The Vietnam War' by Sonia Saraiya (Vanity Fair)
'Vietnam War': Powerful, Flawed and Necessary by David Wiegand (San Francisco Chronicle)
'The Vietnam War': TV Review by Daniel Fienberg (Hollywood Reporter)
Review: Ken Burns's ‘Vietnam War' Will Break Your Heart and Win Your Mind by James Poniewozick (New York Times)
New Ken Burns Series Remembers Vietnam War Through The Eyes Of Everyday People by David Bianculli (NPR)
Yes, America, PBS's ‘The Vietnam War' Is Required Viewing - All 18 Hours Of It by Hank Stuever (Washington Times)
'Vietnam': A Measure of Hope and Healing by Eric Mink (Huffington Post)
‘The Vietnam War' is Ken Burns's most ambitious - and darkest - series yet by Mark Feeney (Boston Globe)
Review: Pay attention to Ken Burns' ‘The Vietnam War' on PBS, there's much to learn by Robert Lloyd (Los Angeles Times)
‘The Vietnam War' Review: Ken Burns' Compelling Experience Is Not to Be Missed by Verne Gay (Newsday)
Book Review: Vietnam War's Ambiguities Through Lives of Those Profoundly Shaped By It by Mark Atwood Lawrence (The Washington Post)
Review: 'Vietnam War' Voices Its Story Through the Common Men and Women Who Fought by Neal Justin (Minneapolis Star Tribune)
'The Vietnam War' Paints Masterpiece On Vast Canvas by Brian Lowry (CNN)
Review: ‘The Vietnam War' on PBS a gripping look at a tumultuous chapter in American history by Mike Pride (Portland Press Herald)
Share Your Story
How did you experience the events of the Vietnam era? Share your videos, photographs, or just write a short story about your experience. Selected contributions may be featured on this page.
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