Synopsis by Nathan Southern
Ken Burns continues his exploration of massive, sweeping subjects with his 15-hour documentary The War; in this case, the conflict in question is World War II. Yet within the scope of that gargantuan subject, Burns and co-director Lynn Novick narrow their scale of emphasis, honing in on four "average" American towns and charting the experiences of individual young men who enlisted to go overseas and fight against the encroaching shadow of fascism. The film covers each major "region" of the U.S. by transporting audiences to the west coast (Sacramento, California); the south (Mobile, Alabama); the east coast (Waterbury, Connecticut) and the Midwest (the farming community of Luverne, Minnesota). Within that geographic framework, Burns uncovers a series of astonishing tales about bravery in the midst of adversity - from the story of a young man who transported 12 American soldiers from the Normandy beach on D-Day, to the accounts of innumerable young men who falsified their ages and enlisted early. Burns and Novick thus repeatedly emphasize the human side of war - an aspect all too often glossed over when documentarians treat WWII on a broader scale.