Burns, Ken

▪ 2008
Kenneth Lauren Burns 
born July 29, 1953, Brooklyn, N.Y.

      The seven-part documentary series The War, which premiered on PBS television in 2007, represented the latest installment in the continuation of the 25-year-long relationship between filmmaker Ken Burns and public TV. His newest effort (co-directed and produced with Lynn Novick) focused on four American towns and the veterans who served in World War II. In addition to an original musical score by Wynton Marsalis, the 15-hour epic featured interviews with veterans and excerpts from diaries, in addition to archival photographs and film.

      Burns spent his youth in Ann Arbor, where his father was a professor at the University of Michigan. When he was 11 years old, his mother died, an event, he said, that influenced his interest in history and in pursuing a filmmaking career. Soon after graduating (1975) from Hampshire College, Amherst, Mass., Burns cofounded Florentine Films.

      His first major project, Brooklyn Bridge (1981), garnered an Academy Award nomination in the documentary category and set the tone for a productive career as a maker of films dealing with American history and culture. He created films about The Shakers (1984), The Statue of Liberty (1985; also nominated for an Academy Award), and legendary Louisiana politician Huey Long (1985). It was Burns's 11-hour 1990 series The Civil War, however, that secured his reputation as a master filmmaker; his signature pan-and-zoom technique created a sense of movement in the stills. The hugely successful series won two Emmy Awards, was the first documentary to gross more than $100 million, and served as the impetus for other filmmakers to pursue ideas based on historical topics and themes that had not generally been supported in the past. Burns then made a combination of single films, miniseries, and extended series, including the epics Baseball (1994), which won an Emmy, and Jazz (2001). Other works covered Thomas Jefferson, explorers Lewis and Clark, architect Frank Lloyd Wright, boxer Jack Johnson, and feminists Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony. Besides his Emmys, Burns won two Erik Barnouw Awards from the Organization of American Historians, the Television Producer of the Year Award in 1991 from the Producer's Guild of America, and the Career Achievement Award in 2002 from the International Documentary Association.

      Burns's 30-year career included collaborations with cinematographer Buddy Squires, editor Paul Barnes, producer Novick, writers Geoffrey C. Ward and Dayton Duncan, and brother Ric Burns, who worked with Ken on The Civil War before moving on to a successful documentary career of his own. Burns, who showed no signs of slowing down, signed an agreement in January with PBS to produce work for the network through 2022; his 12-hour series on the history of the U.S. national park system was scheduled to air in 2009.

Ben Levin

* * *

▪ American director
in full  Kenneth Lauren Burns 
born July 29, 1953, Brooklyn, N.Y., U.S.

      American documentary film director who is known for the epic historical scope of his films.

      Burns spent his youth in Ann Arbor, Mich., where his father was a professor at the University of Michigan. He received a bachelor's degree (1975) in film studies and design from Hampshire College, Amherst, Mass. After graduating, Burns cofounded Florentine Films, a documentary film company, with cinematographer Buddy Squires and editor Paul Barnes.

      His first major project, Brooklyn Bridge (1981), garnered an Academy Award nomination in the documentary category and set the tone for a productive career as a maker of films dealing with American history and culture. His films included The Shakers (1984), The Statue of Liberty (1985), and Huey Long (1985). It was Burns's 11-hour 1990 television series, The Civil War, however, that secured his reputation as a master filmmaker. Burns created a sense of movement in the still photographs that appeared throughout the film by using what was to become his signature technique of panning the camera over them and zooming in on details. The series won two Emmy Awards (Emmy Award) and earned record profits.

      Burns then made a combination of single films, miniseries, and extended series, including the epics Baseball (1994), which won an Emmy, and Jazz (2001). Other works covered Thomas Jefferson (Jefferson, Thomas), explorers Meriwether Lewis and William Clark (Lewis and Clark Expedition), architect Frank Lloyd Wright (Wright, Frank Lloyd), boxer Jack Johnson (Johnson, Jack), and feminists Elizabeth Cady Stanton (Stanton, Elizabeth Cady) and Susan B. Anthony (Anthony, Susan B.). The seven-part documentary series The War (2007) focused on World War II veterans from four American towns.

      Burns frequently employed the distinctive voices of well-known actors in the narration of his films and twice collaborated on scores with jazz musician Wynton Marsalis (Marsalis family). His documentaries continued to accrue accolades from a variety of film and historical organizations. Many of them appeared on the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) network, often bringing it a marked increase in viewership when they aired. In 2007 Burns signed an agreement with PBS to produce work for the network well into the next decade.

Ben Levin
 

* * *


Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Burns, Ken(neth Lauren) — born July 27, 1953, Brooklyn, N.Y., U.S. U.S. documentary filmmaker. He founded his own production company in 1975 and made such documentary films as Brooklyn Bridge (1981), The Shakers (1984), The Statue of Liberty (1985), and The Congress… …   Universalium

  • Burns, Ken(neth Lauren) — (n. 27 jul. 1953, Brooklyn, N.Y., EE.UU.). Documentalista estadounidense. En 1975 fundó su propia productora, con la que realizó documentales como Brooklyn Bridge (1981), The Shakers (1984), The Statue of Liberty (1985) y The Congress (1988). Su… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Ken Burns Effect — Ken Burns im September 2007 Ken Burns (* 29. Juli 1953 in Brooklyn, New York City, NY, USA) als Kenneth Lauren Burns) ist einer der einflussreichsten US amerikanischen Dokumentarfilmer der Gegenwart. Zwei seiner Dokumentationen wurden für einen …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Ken Burns — Kenneth Lauren Burns (nacido el 29 de julio de 1953 [1]) es un cineasta norteamericano de documentales. Burns es conocido por su estilo en documentales, haciendo uso de originales impresiones y fotografías y ha producido varios aclamados… …   Wikipedia Español

  • Burns — Burns, Robert * * * (as used in expressions) Burns, George Burns, Ken(neth Lauren) Burns, Robert Jesse Louis Burns Woodward, Robert B(urns) …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Ken Burns — Infobox actor name = Ken Burns birthname = Kenneth Lauren Burns birthdate = birth date and age|1953|07|29 location = Brooklyn, New York, New York, U.S. height = 000 cm (00 in) parents = spouse = Julie Deborah Brown (2003 present) Amy Stechler… …   Wikipedia

  • Ken Burns — im September 2007 Ken Burns (* 29. Juli 1953 in Brooklyn, New York City, NY, USA) als Kenneth Lauren Burns) ist einer der einflussreichsten US amerikanischen Dokumentarfilmer der Gegenwart. Zwei seiner Dokumentationen wurden für einen Academy… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Ken Burns — Ken Burns, septembre 2007 Ken Burns est un producteur, réalisateur, directeur de la photographie, scénariste et acteur américain né le 29 juillet 1953 à Brooklyn, New York (États Unis), connu pour ses documentaires sur l histoire des États Unis.… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Burns (surname) — Burns is a surname of several different origins: English, Scottish and Irish. The name can also be an Americanization of a Jewish surname.Origin of the name#Scottish and northern English origin. The name is a topographical name for someone who… …   Wikipedia

  • Burns (Familienname) — Burns ist ein Familienname. Bekannte Namensträger Inhaltsverzeichnis A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z …   Deutsch Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.