I love documentaries and I am so glad this is finally getting some love here at Wandering Through The Shelves. Heck I could do only Ken Burns who is one of the best, ever, in providing an in depth look at whatever interests him. Last week, I watched "The American Experience" on the Flu Epidemic of 1918 which I have always been intrigued by. Considering what is going on in the world right now, I thought it apt to show this documentary again. Now, we will not be as bad as this flu epidemic was because a world war is not going on, people are not pushed on troop ships like sardines and we have better technology because of this 1918 virus. Also, it was killing the really healthy people and violently so. Most who do have this virus today are sick but not deadly which does not mean it should not be taken lightly...anything but. Hopefully, people do get the message, stay indoors, away from people unless they need to get groceries, don't panic and find unique ways to entertain themselves and their families. Ok, enough about this, I am writing about 3 documentaries that I truly liked and wish to see again(I want to see them all again) because it has been way too long.. Here are my 3...
1. THE WORLD AT WAR-1973-1976
My dad insisted on watching this much to my mom's chagrin. She was really upset and didn't want to see this at all but my dad put his foot down and so I was able to see much of it and was enthralled by it and saddened by it. It was the first time I saw the images from the holocaust which stayed with me to this day. My mom told me to go to my room but Daddy said that it was good for me to see what happened. I didn't quite understand everything but this series made me fall in love with documentaries as well as wanting to know more about what happened to my mom and dad since they both experienced the war but in different ways. My dad was a soldier who, although he was sensitive, could talk about his experiences. I wish I would have asked him more but I didn't. He had a good way of balancing the horrors that he saw mentioning that one has to look at things in black and white as the grey will haunt you. My mom, on the other hand, suffered much, much more as she was 17 when the war ended and was in the heart of the war before, during and after when the Russians came in, even though she lived near a small town, Wittenberg. I didn't quite understand why my mom was so upset about this series but it was only 28 years before when the war ended. 28 years for me, now, is 1992! I have been working at my present job longer so now I understand her anxieties and how she suffered from PTSD. This is a riveting 26 part series(narrated by Sir Lawrence Olivier) that truly captures the war including the Germans behind the scenes and was one of the first series to truly capture the horrors of the holocaust.
I have this series in VHS and it is my "precious"! I am actually missing one which is about Gloria Swanson and Rudolph Valentino. This superb 13 part documentary is narrated by James Mason, who loved the Silent era, and was created by Kevin Brownlow, a great film historian and author on the silent cinema. This is not a boring rendering about the silent movies but a truly inspired depiction how the movies began. When Brownlow started this documentary, he thought that most people would be either dead or not wanting to talk about it but he was wrong. He talked to Lillian Gish, Gloria Swanson, Douglas Fairbanks Jnr but also the old directors like King Vidor and Allan Dwan. Agnes DeMille talked how everything was in bloom and the roads were mostly unpaved. How she and others in the film industry were so mistreated because of the bigotry of the day. As she said she was only a "movie" which was a derogatory term back in the very early days. One of the best is about Stuntmen who did everything without the tricks they have today. You watch Viola Dana(I love her)talk about her fiancee, Ormer Locklear, and how they would go up in his airplane doing all sorts of stunts and fly low while she threw lipsticks only to have her heart crushed when he died doing a stunt (not his fault) which she was witnessed to. This series you can see on Youtube and it is one of the best documentaries about the beginning of film, the heights and the fall of the silents. My brother, who was not much into this type of film, found it excellent.
3. KEN BURN'S BASEBALL-1994
I can't believe that this documentary is from 1994 because I thought it was from 2004..My dim bulb above my head is getting dimmer by the day. Anyway, I am not into sports at all as my darling brother can attest and, in fact, I suck at playing it as well. My brother, on the other hand, has always been Mr. Sports(except football and basketball, he can correct me) who tried to teach me the Hockey teams back in the 1970's and would ask to watch baseball when I was watching Bugs Bunny(I usually won the round:)). His great love is baseball and has been playing baseball since he was knee high to a grasshopper! He is still playing despite his creaky knees and works at the Niagara Minor Hockey League Association. Because of my brother, I decided to watch this 9(of course) part series on the history of baseball. I thought if anyone can keep me interested in a sport it would be Ken Burns and he didn't fail me because I found it very informative and it kept my interest. I learned more about the Red Sox scandal, the controversial Ty Cobb and the brave Jackie Robinson. A worthy look indeed. I have missed some of his other documentaries like the one on Jazz but I do want to see it for sure.
Which 3 would you pick?