Monday, September 21, 2009

Ken Burns vs. His Critics

AS a former (and very minor) member of the nation's conspiracy of jazz critics, i remember quite well the vitriol hurled at ken burns for his "Jazz" documentary. the UK's guardian, for instance, called the series, for its treating jazz like an art form that died with ellington, "a jam session in a mausoleum."

in some cases the charges were fair, in other cases not.

in any case it struck me that burns was experiencing a critical backlash, an exhaustion of the good will that had built up with "the civil war" in the early '90s. compared to hipper/angrier figures like errol morris and michael moore, the earnest burns was deemed as cool as his famous bowl haircut.

HERE is my piece on what may greet his new "the national parks: america's best idea."

i met burns not long ago to discuss his new project, his early work, and his critical reception. i like him a lot, a very intense guy who's willing to get swept away in a story, its characters and conflicts. anyone who helps bring more attention to john muir cant be all bad.

1 comment:

FILM MAKER said...

Well done Scott! An excellent article on Ken Burns, he is an enduring creative force to be reckoned with. The ability to put heart and soul, to breathe life into telling a story is what Burns [and you] do so well. I enjoyed reading your piece on burns and can't wait to watch Burns' doc on the National Park System.

PS I hope he didn't leave out Smokey Bear or THAT WILL be a 'Mingus Moment' for sure!