Adapted from Tom Lewis' best-selling book, this documentary by premier historic filmmaker Ken Burns examines the legendary figures who took the small-scale hobby of radio and turned it into a major industry -- not to mention a revolutionary force for social change. Empire of the Air recreates the compelling drama through the stories of three important men: Edwin Howard Armstrong, the inventor of the FM system and of AM receivers practical for widespread use; Lee de Forest, the eccentric who almost got patents on a series of groundbreaking new technologies and who also championed the cultural uses of broadcasting; and David Sarnoff, the Russian immigrant who would create NBC and become president of RCA. Narrated by Jason Robards, this inside look at the science, the squabbles, and the entrepreneurial genius behind the modern communications age features interviews, archival footage, insightful commentary, and Ken Burns' characteristic and deeply felt emotional drama. Sarah Welsh, Rovi
Documentarian Ken Burns, better known for his epic studies of the Civil War and of Baseball, here explores the life and works of one of the hallmark painters of the U.S., Thomas Hart Benton (1889-1975). He is most famous for his ability to evoke the vast rolling spaces of the Great Plains, and for his murals and other large works depicting life and work in rural America. He is the namesake and grand-nephew of the unusually well-remembered U.S. Senator from Missouri, whose career was intertwined with that of President Andrew Jackson. Benton the painter was born in Neosho, Missouri, started his art career as a newspaper cartoonist, and then studied in Paris and Europe. For a while, his work reflected the fashionable avant garde syles of painting, including cubism, but the work for which he is best remembered combines his earlier gift at cartooning in a realistic style which might be called "neo-realism." The period which saw the greatest proliferation of his work was the 1930's. Though later his works were collected and displayed at major museums, and one of his students went on to considerable fame himself (Jackson Pollock), his works were not critically acclaimed during his lifetime, in part due to his extreme homophobia and disdain for the New York art scene, and he has his detractors even today. The documentary includes interviews with Benton's wife, with critics and museum curators, and features many of his paintings. Also included are scenes from Benton's home movies. Clarke Fountain, Rovi
Fresh out of college, aspiring filmmaker Ken Burns (The Civil War, Baseball) read David McCullough's history of the building of the Brooklyn Bridge and decided that the labyrinthine tale of tragic setbacks and incredible engineering feats would be the perfect subject for a documentary film. As he experimented with ways of bringing the story to life, Burns, a Brooklyn native himself, developed innovative techniques that would later become his trademark -- using a moving camera over still photographs, having first-person accounts such as diaries and letters read aloud, and taking the time to create exquisite live cinematography of his subject. The result is an emotional and visually stunning account of one of the most ambitious building projects in American history -- a rare treat for history and film buffs alike. Sarah Welsh, Rovi
- Visual Arts, History
- Social History, Religions & Belief Systems, Politics & Government, Inventions & Innovations, Biography, Architecture & Design
- Rise To Power, Race Relations, Life in the Arts, Bohemian Life
- PBS Paramount
- 09 hr
- September 28, 2004
- David McCullough, Jason Robards Jr.
- David McCullough, Jeremy Irons, Jason Robards Jr.
- Ken Burns