Burns, Ken (Kenneth Lauren Burns), 1953–, American documentary filmmaker, b. Brooklyn, N.Y., grad. Hampshire College (1975). Acting as producer, director, and cinematographer, Burns typically explores themes from American history, blending period photographs, artworks, film, and music with narration, remarks by historians and other scholars, contemporaneous writings read by actors, and authentic sound effects. His first full-length film, The Brooklyn Bridge (1980), was, like his subsequent works, shown on public television. Burns won particular acclaim for his nine-part The Civil War (1990), a re-creation and analysis of the conflict; it was awarded an Emmy and numerous other honors and was public broadcasting's highest-rated series. His other films , most mulitpart histories, include The Statue of Liberty (1985), Lewis and Clark (1997), Baseball (1994), Jazz (2001), The War (2007), about Americans at war and at home during World War II, The National Parks: America's Best Idea (2009), The Dust Bowl (2012), The Roosevelts: An Intimate History (2014), The Vietnam War (2017, codirected by Lynn Novick), and Country Music (2019).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
See more Encyclopedia articles on: Film and Television: Biographies