this is going to get random y’all, so be prepared.
so this weekend my roommates introduced me to the amazing app quizup…and i’m obsessed. trivia is probably my favorite thing to do (and just about the only thing i get competative about) so now i can play endless rounds against randos or my friends…basically the dream.
because i started playing the “historical events” quiz obsessively, and kicked some major ass, quizup gave me the nickname the “ardent archivist,’ which may be just about my favorite thing ever. ardent has been one of my favorite words since i heard it for the first time in the movie the patriot. and being an archivist is…kind of what i want to do with my life.
i’ve talked before about being a history nerd, but my love of the topic is more than just an academic interest, it’s actually deeply personal in ways i sort of don’t even understand.
one of my favorite things in the world are ken burns documentaries–i watched the epic civil war series when i was in elementary school and have been hooked ever since. i am always captivated by the way he combines images, narration and music to create comprehensive, but deeply personal films about major subjects in american history. documentary time can definitely be tear-y time for me.
i was feeling pretty lost on sunday night after an emotionally exhausting wekend, but when i turned on ken burns’ the dust bowl, i immediately felt comforted. his films remind me of the feeling i get at church–knowing we’re all connected and everything will be ok, and that life is beautiful and precious.
hi, i love you.
i should qualifying my fan girl status by saying that ken burns is also from ann arbor and went to the same schools i did. last year, i was lucky enough to attend a screening of his most recent film (which is fabulous but very different from the rest of his work), the central park five, during the ann arbor film festival, which included a panel discussion with the man himself. yes, i am the weirdo who gets star struck and emotional about being in close proximity to a documentary film maker…don’t even ask me about the time i met david mccullough, aka one of the most prominent historical non-fiction writers of the 20th century. and i would die if i ever got to meet doris kearns goodwin. but i digress…
in all seriousness, ken burns is a professional inspiration to me, because of the incredible work he does in recreated the lives of average people who lived through extraordinary circumstances. he lost his mother to breast cancer when he was 11, and has stated that it’s been brought to his attention that his life’s work has been to tell the stories of those long dead, essentially resurrecting them. let’s all chew on that one for a moment…
in closing, some of my favorite ken burns films (some of which are streaming on netflix):
Not for Ourselves Alone: Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony — elizabth cady stanton is my personal hero, so this is pretty much my favorite thing ever.
The Civil War — the classic. it’s so long, but sooooo good.
Baseball — just beautiful. i learned so much about american culture and had so many feelings while i was working my way through this last year.
The Dust Bowl — the film a just watched…only a two parter! not only did i learn a lot about depression-era america, it got me thinking a lot about agricultural practices, food policy and the american economic system.
The Central Park Five — he made this film with his daughter, and it’s a scathing look at the NYC criminal justice system and contemporary american racial politics…i was honestly blown away by this film, and after hearing ken burns speak about it afterward, i got to see how emotionally connected he is to his work, and it made me love him even more.
is it weird that i just wrote a blog post about my love of a sort of obscure documentarian? probably, but that’s how i roll.