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American Masters: The Day Carl Sandburg Died

4.7 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

The Day Carl Sandburg Died tells the panoramic story of Sandburg's life his work and the enduring legacy of his ideas. It includes his contributions in poetry history journalism music children's literature as well as delving into the complex social and political events that shaped his life and his work.

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Most of us know him primarily as a poet, but Carl Sandburg was much more than that. Historian, biographer, novelist, musician, songwriter, political activist: this was a Renaissance man, as The Day Carl Sandburg Died, an edifying documentary from the American Masters series, makes abundantly clear. Born in 1878, the son of Swedish immigrants, Sandburg was largely self-educated; a hobo (by choice) at age 19, he became a newspaperman in Milwaukee, married wife Lilian (sister of the renowned photographer Edward Steichen) in 1908, and came to Chicago, the city with which he's most closely associated, four years later. Sandburg's Chicago Poems are perhaps his most famous (especially the title work, describing the city as "Hog Butcher for the World, … Stormy, husky, brawling, / City of the Big Shoulders"), but Sandburg's overall output was voluminous. His Rootabaga Stories, written for children, were immensely popular; his six-volume biography of Abraham Lincoln won a Pulitzer Prize; his American Songbag, published in 1927, was an influential compilation of folk music; and on top of all that, Sandburg was a committed Socialist who, after spending time in Sweden during World War I, returned to America laden with Bolshevik propaganda and money that were seized by US authorities. For many viewers, the most interesting moments will be the footage of Sandburg himself in a variety of public and private situations. There's also the usual array of historians, biographers, and scholars, along with Lilian (in an interview filmed in 1969, two years after Sandburg's death) and one of their three daughters; in addition, there are a few reenactments of Sandburg's life as a young man, as well as performances of his poems and even some lovely film footage "illustrating" his writing (like the Cornhusker poems). In the long run, though, the documentary's greatest value lies in the way it provides a true idea of the earthy elegance of Carl Sandburg's work. --Sam Graham

Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Pbs (Direct)
  • DVD Release Date: September 25, 2012
  • Run Time: 84 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0089VX0GS
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #134,969 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

This 85-minute documentary on Carl Sandburg aired on PBS as part of the "American Masters" series earlier this year and the home DVD adds a few bonus features to the feature.

As narrated by "storyteller" Davis Bates the film provides a visual biography of Sandburg with interviews and comments from two of his biographers as well a using archival video of the poet/author himself (he died in 1967) and a filmed interview with his wife. Television - in its early days - had a wealth of Sandburg appearances (notably on CBS) and those appearances are here too. There's a long section on Sandburg's interest in Abraham Lincoln. His multi-volume biography of Lincoln is still the longest written biography of an individual. We hear about his involvement and in the Socialist Party and there are comments from the late Studs Terkel and Pete Seeger (who, not only reads some of Sandburg's poems, but sings - with his banjo - songs that Sandburg collected in his landmark volume "The American Songbag"). We also hear comments and brief clips from children's singer Dane Zanes.

Like a number of "American Masters" profiles, there are "recreations" of moments in Sandburg's early years.

The bonuses I mentioned are rather short. Biographer Penelope Niven comments on Sandburg's life (39 seconds), musician Marc Smith performs Sandburg's poem " Prairie" (excerpted in the documentary (7 minutes), Seeger talks about the poem "The People, Yes" (2 ½ minutes) and there is a five-minute interview with the filmmaker, Paul Bonesteel.

While I felt that the film dragged at times, it was certainly educational.

Sandburg is forgotten in mainstream America but his poems live on in poetry readings and the early folksongs he compiled are still sung at folk festivals.
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My friend saw this on TV, and asked me to order her a copy.
She does not have a computer.
It arrived very quickly, and she was very[pleased.
It is a wonderful portrait of a wondereful man!
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Saw this on PBS and had to have in myy library. very informative and inspiring. He was quite a wordsmith
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