The nation’s best-known documentary filmmaker talked about his craft Wednesday night in Des Moines. Ken Burns told 35-hundred people at Drake University about his decades-long dedication to learning our nation’s history and striving to re-tell the stories on film. Burns recalled a quote from an essayist he interviewed, saying two-thousand years from now, the American civilization will be known for only three things: the Constitution, baseball and jazz music. Burns is known for documentaries on all three subjects, and others on Lewis and Clark, Thomas Jefferson and Susan B-Anthony. He says he’s interesting in listening to a true honest past. When Burns’ film “The Civil War” came out in 1990, it was the highest-rated series in the history of American public T-V, attracting 40-million viewers in its premiere. Burns says the U-S Constitution is an amazing accomplishment as it’s a document written at the end of the 18th Century document that still solves the problems of today, “except for Florida.” Burns’ 18-hour epic “Baseball” in 1994 attracted 45-million viewers. He says the American pastime is timeless and bonds the generations, spanning memory, family and home.He urged the audience not to be “blissfully ignorant” but to learn for themselves –through books– about the power of history and how it shapes our future.
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