The Civil War 25th Anniversary

The Civil War 25th Anniversary

Mon, 09/07/2015 - 9:00pm - 11:00pm

The Civil War, the award-winning film produced and directed by Ken Burns that first aired in September 1990, rebroadcasts over five consecutive nights September 7-11 at 9 p.m. on WXXI-TV. The broadcast, which coincides with the 25th anniversary of the original broadcast, will present for the first time a newly restored high definition version. The restoration was done by Daniel J. White and supervised by Paul Barnes (lead editor of The Civil War) of Ken Burns’s production company, Florentine Films, in association with the George Eastman House. 

Over the course of two months, 50,000 feet of the original 16mm film negative, which is preserved at the George Eastman House, was scanned frame by frame at 4K (4096 x 2160 pixels, the resolution used for Ultra High Definition).  The standard definition 1990 broadcast was taken from a duplicate of the original negative, resulting in a loss of quality. This is the first time the film will be seen with the exact same fidelity and framing as the negative that Burns and his co-cinematographers Allen Moore and Buddy Squires shot over 25 years ago.

The Civil War series has never been seen in such visual clarity,” said Daniel J. White.  “The colors are brighter and you will see more details in the images.  With this transfer, The Civil War will be preserved at the highest quality for generations to come.”

Paolo Cherchi Usai, Senior Curator of the Moving Image Department at George Eastman House said "Ken Burns is a longtime friend and supporter of George Eastman House, where his original negative is archived. Our new digital laboratory is enabling him to create high-quality digital elements for wider access to the public. Through this collaboration, Ken's creative work and our cultural mission have found a perfect match. It's the proof that film and digital can and should coexist. If used together in a responsible manner, both can make our cinematic heritage available for posterity."

The Civil War attracted an audience of 38.9 million during its premiere in September 1990. It set a record for the highest rated PBS series broadcast, which stands today.The New York Times said that Ken Burns ‘takes his place as the most accomplished documentary filmmaker of his generation.’ The Washington Post said, ‘This is not just good television, nor even just great television. This is heroic television.’

The Civil War is narrated by David McCullough and includes the voices of Sam Waterston (Abraham Lincoln), Julie Harris (Mary Chesnut), Jason Robards (Ulysses S. Grant), Morgan Freeman (Frederick Douglass), Paul Roebling (Joshua L. Chamberlain, etc.), Garrison Keillor (Walt Whitman, etc), George Black (Robert E. Lee), Arthur Miller (William T. Sherman), Chris Murney, (Pvt. Elisha Hunt Rhodes), Charley McDowell (Pvt. Sam Watkins), Horton Foote (Jefferson Davis), George Plimpton (George Templeton Strong), Philip Bosco (Horace Greeley, etc. ), Terry Courier (George McClellan), Jody Powell (Stonewall Jackson, etc.) and Studs Terkel (Benjamin F. Butler).

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