Watch The War: A Ken Burns Film

This three-time Emmy Award winning series of seven documentaries by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick, of Florentine Films, features an intimate and person, in-depth look at the actual effect of World War II on the average man, woman and child in America. Selecting four individuals from four locations in diverse and wide-ranging geographic regions of the country

1 Season, 7 Episodes
September 23, 2007
Documentary & Biography
Cast: Sam Waterston, Julie Harris, Jason Robards, Morgan Freeman
Watch Episodes
Clips & Extras

The War: A Ken Burns Film Full Episode Guide

  • A few weeks after the death of President Roosevelt shocks the country, Germany surrenders. Meanwhile, American sailors, soldiers and Marines endure the worst battle of the Pacific--Okinawa. In August, American planes drop atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the Japanese, too, surrender. Millions return home--to try to learn how to live in a world without war.

  • Americans are shocked by Hitler's massive counterattack in the Ardennes Forest--but by mid March, 1945, they are across the Rhine, while the Russians are 50 miles from Berlin. In the Pacific, after weeks of desperate fighting, Iwo Jima is secured, and American bombers begin a full-fledged air assault on Japan.

  • Victory in Europe seems imminent, but in Holland, the Vosges Mountains, and the Hurtgen Forest, GIs learn painful lessons as old as war itself--that generals make plans, plans go wrong and soldiers die. Meanwhile, on the island of Peleliu, the Marines fight one of the most brutal, and unnecessary, battles of the Pacific.

  • On June 6, 1944, D-Day, 1.5 million Allied troops take part in the greatest invasion in history, but then bog down in the Norman hedgerows for weeks. Saipan proves the costliest Pacific battle to date, while back home dreaded telegrams from the War Department begin arriving at an inconceivable rate.

  • Americans are shocked by terrible losses on the Pacific atoll of Tarawa, while in Italy Allied forces are stalled for months at Monte Cassino and a risky landing at Anzio fails utterly. At home, as overcrowded "war towns" boom, economic transformation leads to confrontation and ugly racial violence.

  • Americans mobilize for total war at home and overseas. Factories hum around the clock, while in North Africa and then Italy, inexperienced GIs learn how to fight. Meanwhile, in the skies over Europe, thousands of American airmen gamble their lives against preposterous odds on daylight bombing missions.

  • The tranquil lives of the citizens of Mobile, Alabama; Sacramento, California; Waterbury, Connecticut; and Luverne, Minnesota are shattered on December 7, 1941, as they, along with the rest of America, are thrust into the greatest cataclysm in history.

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The War: A Ken Burns Film Video Clips & Extras

THE WAR | Willie Rushton Gets a Haircut | PBS Clip (01:31) THE WAR | "Lapse into bad language" | PBS Clip (00:59) THE WAR | "How Many Men?" | PBS Clip (00:45) THE WAR | Maurice Bell Watches Tarawa | PBS Clip (01:58) PBS PREVIEWS: THE WAR | Extended Preview | PBS Clip (26:50) THE WAR | "Change your underwear" | PBS Clip (01:29) THE WAR | "Killed Men" | PBS Clip (01:49) THE WAR | "We live in a digital world now" | PBS Clip (02:50)