Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Oklahoman: "Ken Burns brings 'The Dust Bowl' to life"

Filmmaker Ken Burns, known for The Civil WarBaseball, The War, and many other historical documentaries, has produced a new documentary on the Dust Bowl, the name given to the region of Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado, and New Mexico devastated by dust storms in the 1930s. Today's Look at OKC features a story, "Ken Burns Brings the 'Dust Bowl' to Life," describing the documentary, a four-hour movie that will be aired on PBS in November. Excerpts of the movie will be shown this month at the Oklahoma History Center in Oklahoma City.

From the story:
The massive dust storms peaked on April 14, 1935, a day that became known as Black Sunday. Towering columns of dust choked out the daylight, reducing visibility to a few feet in areas throughout the Dust Bowl. 
“A young itinerant singer found himself in Pampa, Texas, in the midst of Black Sunday ... and everybody all around him, God-fearing Christians all, were certain that this was the end of the world,” Burns said. “And so he looked up and wrote down a song called ‘So Long, It's Been Good to Know Yuh.' His name was Woody Guthrie.”
The documentary features interviews with 26 survivors and the written accounts of two women who lived through the Dust Bowl:
“Unlike any other story that we've told,” Burns said, “this is almost completely a bottom-up story, told by the folks who experienced it, their own memories. That's what makes this particularly special for us.”
I hope to be able to catch the documentary when it airs. In the meantime, here is a news report with Burns' commentary and associated video. Below that, don't miss the video of Woody Guthrie's "So Long, It's Been Good to Know Yuh."

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