THE VIETNAM WAR - A Film By Ken Burns & Lynn Novick
Airs Tuesdays, Oct. 3-Nov. 28, 2017 at 9 p.m. on KPBS TV
Thursday, October 5, 2017
Credit: Courtesy of Larry Burrows/Getty Images
— A Landmark Documentary Event by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick —
THE VIETNAM WAR is a 10 part, 18-hour documentary film series directed by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick. An immersive 360-degree narrative, the series tells the epic story of the Vietnam War as it has never before been told on film.
The series 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.
Ten 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, and revelatory audio recordings from inside the Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon administrations.
The series features more than 100 iconic musical recordings from many of the greatest artists of the era, and original music from Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross as well as the Silk Road Ensemble featuring Yo-Yo Ma.
The series also features more than 120 popular songs that define the era, including tracks from The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, Simon & Garfunkel, Janis Joplin, Ben E. King, Phil Ochs, Donovan, Johnny Cash, Barry McGuire, Buffalo Springfield, The Byrds, Otis Redding, Santana, Joni Mitchell, Nina Simone, The Temptations, Booker T. and the M.G.s, Pete Seeger and more.
WATCH ON YOUR SCHEDULE:
On Sept. 17, concurrent with the broadcast premiere, the first five episodes of THE VIETNAM WAR will be available for streaming on all station-branded PBS platforms, including PBS.org and PBS apps for iOS, Android, Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV and Chromecast.
The final five episodes will be available beginning Sept. 24. All episodes will remain accessible until Oct. 15, 2017. The series will be rebroadcast on Tuesdays beginning Oct. 3 on KPBS TV.
Beginning Oct. 16, the the entire series will be available with KPBS Passport, video streaming for members ($60 yearly) using your computer, smartphone, tablet, Roku, AppleTV, Amazon Fire or Chromecast. Learn how to activate your benefit now
This series will be available on Blu-ray and DVD on Sept. 19, 2017 from PBS Distribution at shopPBS.org. The DVD and Blu-ray extras include a 45-minute preview program, two special segments on the contemporary lives of two of the program’s participants, and deleted scenes. The series will also be available for digital download.
Episode 1: “Déjà Vu (1858-1961)” repeats Tuesday, Oct. 3 at 9 p.m. - 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.
Episode 2: “Riding The Tiger (1961-1963)” repeats Tuesday, Oct. 3 at 10:30 p.m. - 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.
Episode 3: “The River Styx (Jan. 1964-Dec. 1965)” repeats Tuesday, Oct. 10 at 9 p.m. - 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.
Episode 4: “Resolve (Jan. 1966-June 1967)” repeats Tuesday, Oct 17 at 9 p.m. - 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.
Episode 5: “This Is What We Do (July 1967-Dec. 1967)” repeats Tuesday, Oct. 24 at 9 p.m. - 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.
Episode 6: “Things Fall Apart (January 1968-July 1968)” repeats Tuesday, Oct. 31 at 9 p.m. - 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.
Episode 7: “The Veneer Of Civilization (June 1968-May 1969)” repeats Tuesday, Nov. 7 at 9 p.m. - 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.
Episode 8: “The History Of The World (April 1969-May 1970)” repeats Tuesday, Nov. 14 at 9 p.m. - 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.
Episode 9: “A Disrespectful Loyalty (May 1970-March 1973)” repeats Tuesday, Nov. 21 at 9 p.m. - 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.
Episode 10: “The Weight of Memory (March 1973-Onward)” repeats Tuesday, Nov. 28 at 9 p.m. - 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.
“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 war by looking at it from the bottom up, the top down and from all sides,” Novick said. “In addition to dozens of Americans who shared their stories, we interviewed many Vietnamese on both the winning and losing sides, and were surprised to learn that the war remains as painful and unresolved for them as it is for us. Within this almost incomprehensibly destructive event, we discovered profound, universal human truths, as well as uncanny resonances with recent events.”
JOIN THE CONVERSATION:
How did you experience the events of the Vietnam era? Share your videos, photographs, or just write a short story about your experience:
Upload your story on the series website or share by tagging your social media posts with #VietnamStoriesPBS
GET THE BOOK:
Accompanying the series will be a companion book — written by Geoffrey C. Ward, with an introduction by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick — that will be published by Alfred A. Knopf, Burns’s longtime publisher, on Sept. 5, 2017.
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