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The War 

3:49 | Clip
A seven-part series focusing on the many ways in which the Second World War impacted the lives of American families.




Won 3 Primetime Emmys. Another 5 wins & 12 nominations. See more awards »





Series cast summary:
Keith David ...  Self - Narrator 7 episodes, 2007
Katharine Phillips Katharine Phillips ...  Self - Resident of Mobile, Alabama 7 episodes, 2007
Tom Hanks ...  Al McIntosh / ... 7 episodes, 2007
Paul Fussell Paul Fussell ...  Self - Infantry 6 episodes, 2007
Quentin Aanenson Quentin Aanenson ...  Self - Resident of Luverne, Minnesota 6 episodes, 2007
Burt Wilson Burt Wilson ...  Self - Resident of Sacramento, California / ... 6 episodes, 2007
Sascha Weinzheimer Sascha Weinzheimer ...  Self - Resident of Sacramento Valley, California 6 episodes, 2007
Sam Hynes Sam Hynes ...  Self - Marine Pilot 5 episodes, 2007
Daniel Inouye ...  Self - Infantry / ... 5 episodes, 2007
Rebecca Holtz Rebecca Holtz ...  Reader 5 episodes, 2007
Glenn D. Frazier Glenn D. Frazier ...  Self - Prisoner of War / ... 4 episodes, 2007
Emma Belle Pelcher Emma Belle Pelcher ...  Self - Resident of Mobile, Alabama 4 episodes, 2007
Olga Ciarlo Olga Ciarlo ...  Self - Resident of Waterbury, Connecticut / ... 4 episodes, 2007
Maurice Bell Maurice Bell ...  Self - Resident of Mobile, Alabama 4 episodes, 2007
Dwain Luce Dwain Luce ...  Self - Resident of Mobile, Alabama 4 episodes, 2007
John Gray John Gray ...  Self - Resident of Mobile, Alabama 4 episodes, 2007
Sidney Phillips Sidney Phillips ...  Self - Resident of Mobile, Alabama 4 episodes, 2007
Susumu Satow Susumu Satow ...  Self - Resident of Sacramento, California 4 episodes, 2007
Jim Sherman Jim Sherman ...  Self - Resident of Luverne, Minnesota 4 episodes, 2007
Robert Kashiwagi Robert Kashiwagi ...  Self - Resident of Sacramento, California / ... 4 episodes, 2007
Kevin Conway ...  Reader 4 episodes, 2007
Burnett Miller Burnett Miller ...  Self - Resident of Sacramento, California 3 episodes, 2007
Ray Leopold Ray Leopold ...  Self - Resident of Waterbury, Connecticut 3 episodes, 2007
Earl Burke Earl Burke ...  Self - Resident of Sacramento, California 3 episodes, 2007
Asako Tokuno Asako Tokuno ...  Self - Resident of Sacramento, California 3 episodes, 2007
Tom Galloway Tom Galloway ...  Self - Resident of Mobile, Alabama / ... 3 episodes, 2007
Jackie Greer Jackie Greer ...  Self - Resident of Louisiana 3 episodes, 2007
Josh Lucas ...  Reader 3 episodes, 2007
Learn more

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A seven-part series focusing on the many ways in which the Second World War impacted the lives of American families.

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Featured in Ken Burns: America's Storyteller (2017) See more »


Variations for the Healing of Arinushka
Written by Arvo Pärt
Performed by Kalle Randalu, piano
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User Reviews

Not Burns' best, but still a great series.
20 December 2007 | by LydiaOLydiaSee all my reviews

The six letter title ("The War") of this Ken Burns' series is remarkably illustrative of the piece. The title is not "America's War", as would be more apt in some objective sense, but simply "The War" as if you the viewer were an 19-year old American about to be shipped off to some far-off land. To you , there was only one, The War.

This seven-part series chronicles World War II through a distinctly American lens. The subjects are mostly common Americans impelled by circumstance of birth but mostly also compelled by a genuine American idealism to make war and suffer loss. What few WW2 veterans remain with us this day may be with us still perhaps a decade or two at most. "The War" gives them one last opportunity to reflect on comrades lost and horrors seen. It gives us as viewers one last opportunity to hear their stories as you might hear your grandparent tell you rather than as the cardboard cut-outs of history books. Typically for Burns', the piece is filled with well chosen period photos, moving images, and music.

And yet, as much as we want and need to remember the sacrifices of those who served, I can't help but think that this was the wrong film for Burns' to make. Sure, he will get accolades from veterans groups and politicians the country wide. But Burns should have left the story of American heroics and sacrifice to the sentimentalists - lord knows there are enough of them. A man with Burns' skill should have broadened his ken (no pun intended) to teach his largely American audience some new ways to think about the conflict and its implications for modern society.

If an American and, say, a Croat were to start discussing the war today, the American would speak about pride and sacrifice. Even if moderately knowledgeable about history, he'd have perhaps some vague sense that the Yugoslavs were somehow involved. Never in his wildest dreams would he have guessed that the Yugoslav armed forces suffered more dead than the Americans in World War II. And such are the points that need to be made in this age where 9/11, however inherently important it is, should be put into context. 3000 or so people died in 9/11. This is a blip on the radar - a bad few weeks in Iraq or a particularly bad day in any given African conflict. The message that Americans need to learn is not more paeans about the uniqueness and greatness of their sacrifice - but rather more about the universality of it. To be a world leader, America in 2007 needs less navel gazing and more outward understanding.

"The War" - "America's War" - provided none of this. It also barely touched issues of class and race in any substantive way, other than to give a somewhat embarrassingly lopsided and timid view of the internment of Japanese Americans. We need the Ken Burns' of the world. What am I saying - we need Ken Burns' to do more than pay homage to our great, brave veterans. We need him to tell the stories about ourselves and our world that Americans just don't know.

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Official Sites:

PBS [United States]





Release Date:

23 September 2007 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The War See more »

Filming Locations:

Luverne, Minnesota, USA See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Florentine Films, WETA See more »
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Technical Specs


(7 parts)


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