The Gettysburg Address is the subject of a new documentary by Ken Burns. The documentary tells the story of students at the Greenwood School whose study of the Gettysburg Address brings new understanding to the speech.


“The Address” is an attempt to find a way to relate important moments in history in a way that kids can understand. A group of 50 boys between middle and high school age have studied and found new ways to bring understanding to the Gettysburg Address. Ken Burn falls back, as he takes a full 90 minutes to let the students find their way through this courageous moment in time. What makes the Greenwood School so impressive is that it’s an alternative school. Ken Burns purposefully stages this dramatic reinterpretation in a place that is the last chance to keep young kids from heading to prison.

Ken Burns does amazing work here by letting the kids control the narrative. These are kids who normally don’t get a chance to shine and we naturally see them struggle a little with the heady material. But, they are allowed to find a way to connect what’s on the paper to their lives. History only comes alive for kids when we give them the chance to see that their lives are part of a much larger tapestry. It’s important and it allows for something greater than us all to emerge. I would’ve loved to have heard a commentary track for this, but I’ll take what I can get.

The DVD comes with no special features. The A/V Quality is pretty strong. The transfer is clean, but the Dolby track doesn’t get a ton of back channel support. Ultimately, it’s a pretty standard Lifetime movie sent to DVD. In the end, I’d recommend a purchase to the curious.


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