The Vietnam War, a new 10-part, 18-hour documentary series directed by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick, will premiere Sept. 17, 2017, on NPT. The series will air 7 p.m. nightly Sunday through Thursday, through Sept. 28 with an encore broadcast immediately following each night’s premiere. NPT is producing three original spots focusing on different aspects of the war that will air later this fall and 10 short interviews with Vietnam War veterans and others that will be shared via social media.
Prior to The Vietnam War’s launch, NPT is co-hosting three free preview screenings and discussions of the series.
- Thursday, Sept. 7, from 6 to 8 p.m., at the John Seigenthaler Center at Vanderbilt University (1207 18th Ave. S., Nashville, TN 37212). This screening is part of the Seigenthaler Series and will be followed by a discussion on how the war changed American journalism featuring panelists Thomas Schwartz, Vanderbilt University history professor, and Leon Alligood, an MTSU journalism professor who embedded in Afghanistan as a Tennessean reporter. Ken Paulson, president of the First Amendment Center, will moderate the panel. RSVP is required.
- Saturday, Sept. 9, from 2 to 4 p.m., at The Tennessee State Museum (505 Deaderick St., Nashville, TN 37243). Following the screening, Dr. Lisa Budreau, the museum’s senior curator of military history, will moderate “Vietnam Voices,” a discussion with veterans who served in the war. Reservations for this event are full.
- Wednesday, Sept. 13, from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m., at the Old Glory Distilling Company (451 Alfred Thun Rd., Clarksville, TN 37040). Presented in conjunction with the Welcome Home Celebration in Clarksville, the event includes guests Bill Robinson, a U.S. Air Force helicopter crew chief who became the longest-held captive of the Vietnam War; and Cindy Stonebraker, the daughter of U.S. Air Force Lt. Col Kenneth Stonebraker, a pilot who went missing in action in October 1968. RSVP is required.
Burns and Novick use an immersive narrative to tell the epic story of the Vietnam War as it has never before been told on film. The Vietnam War 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.
“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.”
“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. “Within this almost incomprehensibly destructive event, we discovered profound, universal human truths, as well as uncanny resonances with recent events.”
Ten years in the making, the series was 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 Vietnam War features new, original music written and recorded by Academy Award-winning composers Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross. The film also features new music arranged and performed by Grammy Award-winning cellist Yo-Yo Ma and The Silk Road Ensemble. Additional music in the film was composed by David Cieri and Doug Wamble, both of whom are longtime collaborators with Florentine Films.
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 MG’s, Pete Seeger and more.