Filmmaker Ken Burns On His New Vietnam War Series

Sep 7, 2017

America is at a tense moment in history. We're living at a time of stark disagreement. Some say the president doesn't tell the truth; others say he tells it like it is. This tension came to head in Charlottesville, Virginia, where confrontations between white nationalists and counter-protesters erupted in violence. 

Documentary filmmaker Ken Burns says these rifts aren't without precedent: the Vietnam War also sparked divisions in American society. In today's "Two Way Street," Burns takes us back to that moment, when the country was torn apart by debates over the war's justness. 

This is one of the topics he explores in his new series, "The Vietnam War," which premieres Sunday, September 17, on GPB and other PBS stations. Burns describes his latest work, which he co-produced alongside filmmaker Lynn Novick, as a "huge epic." The 10-part, 18-hour documentary features 79 people, the overwhelming majority of whom are Americans. "The Vietnam War," however, also includes interviews with soldiers from both North and South Vietnam.

Burns tells us about the voice that stuck out to him the most: that of former Marine John Musgrave. We play a clip of Musgrave reading one of his poems about the war, "Notes To The Man Who Shot Me." 

We close out the show with a look back at some of the most memorable and influential music of the time.