42 user 23 critic

The War 

3:49 | Clip
A seven-part series focusing on the many ways in which the Second World War impacted the lives of American families.




Won 3 Primetime Emmys. Another 5 wins & 12 nominations. See more awards »





Series cast summary:
Keith David ...  Self - Narrator 7 episodes, 2007
Katharine Phillips Katharine Phillips ...  Self - Resident of Mobile, Alabama 7 episodes, 2007
Tom Hanks ...  Al McIntosh / ... 7 episodes, 2007
Paul Fussell Paul Fussell ...  Self - Infantry 6 episodes, 2007
Quentin Aanenson Quentin Aanenson ...  Self - Resident of Luverne, Minnesota 6 episodes, 2007
Burt Wilson Burt Wilson ...  Self - Resident of Sacramento, California / ... 6 episodes, 2007
Sascha Weinzheimer Sascha Weinzheimer ...  Self - Resident of Sacramento Valley, California 6 episodes, 2007
Sam Hynes Sam Hynes ...  Self - Marine Pilot 5 episodes, 2007
Daniel Inouye ...  Self - Infantry / ... 5 episodes, 2007
Rebecca Holtz Rebecca Holtz ...  Reader 5 episodes, 2007
Glenn D. Frazier Glenn D. Frazier ...  Self - Prisoner of War / ... 4 episodes, 2007
Emma Belle Pelcher Emma Belle Pelcher ...  Self - Resident of Mobile, Alabama 4 episodes, 2007
Olga Ciarlo Olga Ciarlo ...  Self - Resident of Waterbury, Connecticut / ... 4 episodes, 2007
Maurice Bell Maurice Bell ...  Self - Resident of Mobile, Alabama 4 episodes, 2007
Dwain Luce Dwain Luce ...  Self - Resident of Mobile, Alabama 4 episodes, 2007
John Gray John Gray ...  Self - Resident of Mobile, Alabama 4 episodes, 2007
Sidney Phillips Sidney Phillips ...  Self - Resident of Mobile, Alabama 4 episodes, 2007
Susumu Satow Susumu Satow ...  Self - Resident of Sacramento, California 4 episodes, 2007
Jim Sherman Jim Sherman ...  Self - Resident of Luverne, Minnesota 4 episodes, 2007
Robert Kashiwagi Robert Kashiwagi ...  Self - Resident of Sacramento, California / ... 4 episodes, 2007
Kevin Conway ...  Reader 4 episodes, 2007
Burnett Miller Burnett Miller ...  Self - Resident of Sacramento, California 3 episodes, 2007
Ray Leopold Ray Leopold ...  Self - Resident of Waterbury, Connecticut 3 episodes, 2007
Earl Burke Earl Burke ...  Self - Resident of Sacramento, California 3 episodes, 2007
Asako Tokuno Asako Tokuno ...  Self - Resident of Sacramento, California 3 episodes, 2007
Tom Galloway Tom Galloway ...  Self - Resident of Mobile, Alabama / ... 3 episodes, 2007
Jackie Greer Jackie Greer ...  Self - Resident of Louisiana 3 episodes, 2007
Josh Lucas ...  Reader 3 episodes, 2007


A seven-part series focusing on the many ways in which the Second World War impacted the lives of American families.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


TV-14 | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


Featured in Ken Burns: America's Storyteller (2017) See more »


Variations for the Healing of Arinushka
Written by Arvo Pärt
Performed by Kalle Randalu, piano
See more »

User Reviews

Try to view history as it happened in the context it happened in
23 November 2007 | by gizmo61See all my reviews

Ken Burns has done it again. "The Civil War" was a masterpiece. "Baseball" was absolutely superb. And "The War" is another A+ piece of work. Why? Let me count the ways.

1) All wars are hell. This time Burns was able to show what little he felt most humans could suffer without vomiting, some of which was filmed on the spot. Sure, some of the editing was a little choppy. Sure, vast areas of what happened in 1939-1946 had to be omitted by nature of the immensity and complexity of what happened. But most of the younger kids who thinks wars are only fought in the Middle East and who knew nobody in their families who died, or for that matter don't even know the dates of WWII, haven't a clue. So what if they didn't like the music? Hell, they didn't have Ipods or plasma tvs or cable then. Do some reading. Try to envision what absolute hell war is. Burns showed us.

2) For the first time, we were able to hear it - extensively - from people who lived through it. How many wouldn't give a lot to sit down with the folks from those 4 towns who spent hours in interviews, to hear more about it? WWII affected, almost as much as the Civil War, everyone in the country. Go talk to them, kids. Hear what they have to say. You and your generation have never submitted to anything that meant a total effort by your country to remain free. You can't conceive what it means to say that dropping 2 A-bombs of necessity to end the war saved over 500,000 American lives. People today froth at the mouth when they read the media touting the nearly 4,000 dead in Iraq. How about saving 500,000 lives? This war was so immense and affected everything and everyone that every generation of Americans should be made to really study it. Never since have we faced what these people faced. And Burns shows it. All of it.

3) We - you - can't view this documentary in terms you are comfortable with: instant gratification, burning the flag, anti-war demonstrations, cell phones and emails, and the whole plethora of me-me-me that exists today. You need to read what life was really like then, who did what and how they did it, what they believed in, what manners they had, what they were willing to die for. Burns gives you continuous examples of people from 4 American towns for 15 hours to try to tell you what Americans were willing to do to save their way of life from seriously evil sickos who were hell bent on destroying us. Those psychos in the Middle East have the same sort of plan to destroy anything in the west; similar to plans Hitler had to literally own the world and kill off those he felt were in the way and the plans that the Japanese had of making every western country a subservient fiefdom. Read about it. Read a lot about it (if you know how to read) and then watch the Burns doc. See what it took to stop them. Oh, Hitler and Tojo and Stalin, eventually, weren't that bad? They were only comic-book characters? If you believe that, you need a serious education.

4) What happened in 1941-1945 happened. As in all wars throughout history, there were morons in charge of some, heroes in charge of others, misguided attempts, spectacularly successful attempts, incredibly unlucky attempts. But nothing ever so large, on such a scale of planning, training, executing, supplying, and staffing h as ever occurred in the history of man, and probably never will. And Burns eloquently captured some of its essence. Nobody could EVER capture all of it, or even parts of it, on the scale in which it happened. WWII was the last of the romantic wars. During WWII there were still espionage, undergrounds, passwords, night parachutings, spy chains, radio broadcasts, a whole litany of danger that stopped with the Cold War. After that, Korea and Vietnam and now the butchery in Iraq turned into cold, mechanical, medieval barbarism. Burns had to pick and choose the parts that brought the personalities of those from four American towns into view. And he did that very well.

18 of 32 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 42 user reviews »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.


Official Sites:

PBS [United States]





Release Date:

23 September 2007 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The War See more »

Filming Locations:

Luverne, Minnesota, USA See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Florentine Films, WETA See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


(7 parts)


See full technical specs »

Contribute to This Page

Recently Viewed