• Click to contribute to WMHT
  • Click to make/update a sustaining contribution to WMHT
  • Click to join the WMHT e-news mailing list

Premieres September 2017 on WMHT-TV

THE VIETNAM WAR, a new 10-part, 18-hour documentary film series directed by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick, will air in September 2017 on PBS stations nationwide.

In an immersive 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 100 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.

“The Vietnam War was a decade of agony that took the lives of more than 58,000 Americans,” Burns said. “Not since the Civil War have we as a country been so torn apart. There wasn’t an American alive then who wasn’t affected in some way — from those who fought and sacrificed in the war, to families of service members and POWs, to those who protested the war in open conflict with their government and fellow citizens. More than 40 years after it ended, we can’t forget Vietnam, and we are still arguing about why it went wrong, who was to blame and whether it was all worth it.”

“We are all searching for some meaning in this terrible tragedy. Ken and I have tried to shed new light on the human dimensions of the war by looking at it from the bottom up, the top down and from all sides,” Novick said.  “In addition to dozens of ‘ordinary’ Americans who shared their stories, we interviewed many ‘ordinary’ Vietnamese soldiers and non-combatants in the North and South, and we were surprised to learn that the war remains as painful and unresolved for them as it is for us.”

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.

“Ever since THE CIVIL WAR, Ken and Lynn have been behind some of the most important documentary films ever shown on television, films that have in fact made television history and created national conversations around who we are as Americans,” said Beth Hoppe, Chief Programming Executive and General Manager, General Audience Programming, PBS. “Yet even with this remarkable track record, THE VIETNAM WAR stands out as an unmatched achievement that will spark thought, questions and debate around one of the most transformative periods in modern American history.”

The film will be accompanied by an unprecedented outreach and public engagement program, providing opportunities — facilitated by public television stations — 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 through multiple platforms, including PBS LearningMedia.

THE VIETNAM WAR rounds out a trilogy of Florentine Films’ exploration of American wars that began with Burns’s landmark series, THE CIVIL WAR (1990), followed by Burns and Novick’s acclaimed seven-part series about the World War II, THE WAR (2007).