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Saturday, November 20, 2010

The best TV talking head ever?

The American Civil War - a film by Ken Burns is a masterclass in historical documentary making. It shows that a good script, extraordinary photographs and well chosen sound effects can easily ace corny dramatic reconstructions of officers writing their diaries and looking pensively out of the window.

But above all it has wonderful voices: Morgan Freeman as Frederick Douglass, Garrison Keillor as Walt Whitman and Sam Waterston as Abraham Lincoln. Providing the context, on camera, is Shelby Foote, probably America's best-known Civil War historian. His contributions must have delighted the producers because they are perfectly measured in length, packed with the ideal balance of dry fact and poignant anecdote and delivered, from beneath sad eyes, in a voice that sounds like it comes from the same time as the melancholy events it describes.

He died five years ago. A fan made this for remembrance.