Death and the Civil War
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Death and the Civil War
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Original music score from Grammy Award and multiple Emmy Award winning composer Brian Keane for the Ric Burns directed film 'Death and the Civil War'. Premieres on September 18 (from 8:00 PM 10:00 Pm EST) nationally on the PBS network as part of the American Experience in conjunction with the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Antietam to this day, the single bloodiest day in American history.
'Death and the Civil War' explores an essential but largely overlooked aspect of the most pivotal event in American history: the transformation of the nation by the death of an estimated 750,000 men nearly two and a half percent of the population in four dark and searing years from 1861 to 1865.
The work of contending with death on this scale would propel extraordinary changes in the inner and outer life of all Americans posing challenges for which there were no ready answers when the war began challenges that called forth remarkable and eventually heroic efforts on the parts of individuals, groups, and the government as Americans worked to improvise new solutions, new institutions, new ways of coping with death on an unimaginable scale.
Before the Civil War, there were no national cemeteries in America. No provisions for identifying the dead, or for notifying the next of kin, or for providing aid to the suffering families of dead veterans. No federal relief organizations, no effective ambulance corps, no adequate federal hospitals, no federal provisions for burying the dead. No Arlington Cemetery. No Memorial Day.
Brian Keane's score in both composition and production are as dramatic as the film itself. With grand but delicate orchestral gestures, Keane drives the film with deep reverence and respect for this solemn portion of our American history.
Top Customer Reviews
However, none of the other reviewers have mentioned that this CD is simply one long 52-minute music track. Although the insert lists separate numbered tracks, it is not possible to skip through the various performances or set the CD to play on shuffle.
This seems a curious engineering decision and one that will keep me from listening to this recording as often as I might otherwise. Potential buyers should be alert to this feature in case it reduces the appeal.
At 120 minutes, Burns' pace is deliberate and provocative. The opening segment is jarring. A few moments before his death, a Mississippi soldier begins writing a letter to his father. The man bleeds onto the paper has he haltingly reveals his last thoughts about his life, service, death and afterlife. Within this 12 minute preface viewers' hearts may begin to break. The images that Burns selects include photography from the era; within the images there are ghosts, individuals who moved during the 30 second to a minute and half exposure time. There are subtleties in the images and texts that may move past the causal viewer; such may be the estimate that of the 750,000+ deaths 50% were not identified by name.
The chapters are each about 15 minutes in length: Death, Burying, Naming, Honoring, Believing and Doubting, Accounting, and Remembering. Drew Gilpin Faust is the most frequently interviewed expert during the film; generally her remarks impart important facts but on one occasion it appears that she minimizes the 6,500+ deaths during the Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom campaigns. The individual being interviewed who is most likely to be remembered is Thomas Lynch, undertaker and poet. He remarks defines and gently elevates the bleak discussions that, at times, may approach melodrama. The narration by Oliver Platt and music compositions by Brian Keane are effective in conveying grief and hope. Is there an 'Ashoken Farewell' on the soundtrack. Yes, possibly two: A Thousand Thoughts [Tusen Tankar] and Republic of Suffering in acoustic and orchestral versions. Both the film and the soundtrack are immediately available after the Tuesday evening broadcast and they are worth every penny and much more. Ric Burns'
upon all the people during the terrible War of Northern Aggression.
"Republic of Suffering" and "Memorial Day" will be on the music playlist during my own memorial service.