arts and pop culture | November 27, 2012

"This is Why Documentaries Exist": The Atlantic On Ken Burns' New Film

"The Central Park Five is a riveting documentary," The Atlantic writes of Ken Burns' latest film. The review continues: "The filmmaking is simple and seamless, the facts copious but not overwhelming, the contributing on-screen voices...eloquent and informative." The documentary is a joint venture between Ken Burns, Sarah Burns, and David McMahon that chronicles the highly publicized case of the central park jogger. Despite the fact that many people heard about the 1989 attack on the 28-year-old white investment banker jogging through the park—few know that the five men accused of committing the heinous act were actually wrongfully accused.

In typical Burns style, the film documents a tumultuous time in human history. It details a time where racial prejudice and tension was near a boiling-point—causing judgments to be clouded and men to be falsely accused of a crime because of the color of their skin. As the film shows, despite wild inaccuracies in both the timeline and details of the event in question, the group of black and Latino men were still convicted of the crime. It was not until years later that the real culprit stepped forward and confessed his guilt.

Similar to other films in his repertoire—Baseball, Jazz, The Civil War and The Dust BowlThe Central Park Five portrays a historical event in a manner both informative and moving. He provides viewers not only with the hard facts of the event, but also with a broader view of the historical and cultural factors that were at play at the time. His storytelling is masterful, and whether it is on stage or in his films, he is able to convey the most provocative and touching examples of humanity at both its finest—and its lowest.

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science | November 26, 2012