'The Civil War': Ken Burns documentary airing on PBS for 150th anniversary of war

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PHOENIX -- The classic documentary series "The Civil War" by Ken Burns is being broadcast this week as the 150th anniversary of the "War Between the States" is observed.

With 40 million viewers, the series had the highest ratings ever for a PBS show, winning two Emmys and dozens of other awards. The first of its kind, "The Civil War," became the standard to which nearly all other feature documentaries  were compared, making Burns, the director and producer, a household name.

As he told Tara Hitchcock Monday morning, it took him longer to put together the nine-episode series than it did for the states to fight the Civil War. (The war raged for four years, from April 12, 1861, when the Confederacy attacked Fort Sumter, S.C.,  until April 9, 1865, when General Robert E. Lee surrendered at Appomattox Court House.)

Burns calls the film "emotional archeology," doing far more than merely recounting a historical event.

"The Civil War," which first aired in September 1990, was unique in that it utilized archival photographs, live modern cinematography, music, narration and first-person voices. Burns shot more than 16,000 photographs, paintings and newspaper images from the time for the war. The methods he used in making "The Civil War" -- slowly panning and zooming over the still images to give them action -- came to be known as the "Ken Burns effect."

The series began Sunday night and will continue nightly, 8 p.m.-1 0 p.m. through Thursday, April 7. There is also a new DVD series, which features many extras, available.