I’ve been watching the Ken Burns documentary, The Roosevelts: An Intimate History, on Netflix.
Burns first fully captured the attention of the nation with his epic and innovative multipart documentary series, The Civil War, which was originally broadcast in 1990. It remains the most watched program ever to air on PBS and was a breakthrough in putting documentary filmmaking into the mainstream of popular culture.
I remember coming home from work to my little one bedroom apartment on Capitol Hill eager to settle in and watch each episode unfold. It brought to life the greatest event in the nation’s history and merged history and entertainment as never before. It provided the water-cooler conversation for the nation as we all discussed the people and politics of mid-19th century America. This was reality TV in its most noble and artistic form.
This new series (first airing in 2014) on Theodore, Eleanor, and Franklin Roosevelt is just as compelling. These icons of American history come across as profoundly gifted yet flawed people who embraced action and made a difference that still resonates to this day.
Burns is a master storyteller and mixes photos and film footage with music and voice-over along with interviews to spin a riveting narrative and evoke deep emotion. Meryl Streep voices Eleanor, with Paul Giamatti as T.R. and Edward Hermann as F.D.R.
I’ve been drawn to biography since my childhood. Studying how others lived their lives informs me on the possibilities for living my own life.
If you want something to watch that will be intellectually challenging and emotionally moving while possibly inspiring you to make your own life more excellent, give this series a go.