Family Movie Night

By Karyn Bowman

I love watching a good documentary.

It is those true stories that have meaning and verve that make you feel wonder and awe about our life here. Some of them make us feel something more uneasy.

Standing in the Shadows of Motown

Image from IMDb.com

I have loved some documentaries in the past. I loved Standing in the Shadows of Motown, a documentary about the studio musicians of Motown when the studio was based in Detroit. Just the soundtrack alone is enough to make me smile. It is the stories of those musicians that make you cry or stand in wide wonder of these men.

Another that is the tops on my list is Man on a Wire about a French man’s tightrope expedition between the twin towers of New York City. To hear the story of how Philippe Petit planned and executed his famous but highly illegal performance is fascinating and a bit of a heist movie with plenty of dumb luck.

But there is one man who is the master of the documentary and that is Ken Burns. Whenever I watch his movies, I feel as if I have learn something I was not going to learn anywhere else. I feel ten times smarter although if I had just read or looked up some of the facts he portrays, I might have known them too.

His newest documentary is call The Vietnam War. It is a movie that does not shy away from a war that might be our nation’s biggest regret. The episode I watched featured a clip about Jane Fonda, aka Hanoi Jane. If you want to get a room of people upset, just mention her name. I find people still react strongly to her. I am certain I have not heard of positive word said about her for the last 20 or more years.

Anyhoo, there is a section of Jane’s visit to the North side – the one where she allegedly took a note from one of our guys as prisoner and sent him to his death. Well, that didn’t happen in reality but the story persists. And while Burns gives us the reasoning from the vet’s point of view about her actions in visiting segment. I am not sure anyone will believe it just as I am sure no one ever really believed her apology.

Vietnam warRegardless of your view of Jane Fonda, what you can’t get around is the visceral feelings this will bring up, especially those who served in the war, protested the war, or grew up during the war era. Ken Burns stated that with every day and new fact that turned up, he felt embarrassed by the new details he learned during the production of this film.

One of my friends, who is a retired librarian, said this film reminded her why she protested this war. I can’t imagine all of the reactions people might have to this series. But I do know that because this was made by Ken Burns it will be a high quality movie.

Just be aware that if you go to buy this movie or check it out from the Library, there are several disks. It might take you time to get through all of them. But the movie is guaranteed to make you think about that war, the things we did, those other soldiers did, and guess at what you might have done.

And that is not an easy thing to think about.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.