Wednesday, July 18, 2012
THE WAR, a seven-part documentary series directed and produced by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick, explores the history and horror of the Second World War from an American perspective by following the fortunes of so-called ordinary men and women who become caught up in one of the greatest cataclysms in human history.
Six years in the making, this epic 15-hour film focuses on the stories of citizens from four geographically distributed American towns — Waterbury, Connecticut; Mobile, Alabama; Sacramento, California; and the tiny farming town of Luverne, Minnesota. These four communities stand in for — and could represent — any town in the United States that went through the war's four devastating years.
Individuals from each community take the viewer through their own personal and quite often harrowing journeys into war, painting vivid portraits of how the war dramatically altered their lives and those of their neighbors, as well as the country they helped to save for generations to come. Winner of three Primetime Emmys.
"A Necessary War" (Part One) - After an overview of the Second World War, which engulfed the world from 1939 to 1945 and cost at least 50 million lives, inhabitants of four towns — Mobile, Alabama; Sacramento, California; Waterbury, Connecticut; and Luverne, Minnesota — recall their communities on the eve of the conflict. For them, the events overseas seem far away.
Their tranquil lives are shattered by the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, and America is thrust into the great cataclysm. Along with millions of other young men, Sid Phillips and Willie Rushton of Mobile, Ray Leopold of Waterbury and Walter Thompson and Burnett Miller of Sacramento enter the armed forces.
In the Philippines, two Americans, Corporal Glenn Frazier and Sascha Weinzheimer (who was eight years old in 1941), are caught up in the Japanese onslaught there, as American and Filipino forces retreat onto Bataan while thousands of civilians are rounded up and imprisoned in Manila.
Back home, 110,000 Japanese Americans along the West Coast are forcibly relocated by the government to internment camps. On the East Coast, German U-boats menace Allied shipping offshore. The United States seems unprepared for this kind of total war.
In June 1942, the Navy manages a victory over the Japanese at the Battle of Midway. In August, American land forces, including Sid Phillips of Mobile, face the Japanese army for the first time at Guadalcanal.
Abandoned by their fleet with no sea or air support, the men are under constant attack. After six months, the Americans finally prevail and, in the process, stop Japan's expansion in the Pacific.
Up Next: The next six episodes will follow on August 1st at 9 p.m., 2nd at 10 p.m., 5th at 9 p.m., 6th at 9 p.m., 7th at 9 p.m., 8th at 9 p.m., 2012 on KPBS Television.