A female demonstrator offers a flower to military police on guard at the Pentagon. October 21, 1967.
El Camino Real Charter

Ken Burns & Lynn Novick: Why teens must watch ‘The Vietnam War’

Filmmaker Ken Burns spent his youth protesting the Vietnam War. Over 30 years later, Burns and director Lynn Novick embarked on a ten-year journey to bring light to the war’s corruption.

From U.S. Air Force pilots to teenage Vietnamese bus drivers, who spent their nights secretly transporting wounded Vietnamese soldiers across the Ho Chi Minh Trail, Burns and Novick feature voices and images that highlight new perspectives on the war.

Their years of work culminated in “The Vietnam War,” an 18-hour documentary that will air on PBS Sept. 17.

At an Ideas Exchange in the Theatre at the Ace Hotel on July 29, the two shared opinions on the series’ length, as well as the importance of all 18 hours of its content.

“We’ve got to know about it,” Burns said.”With the exception of a few students, very few people are taught it.”

Novick believes that in a world dominated by short YouTube and Vine videos, the documentary’s length will draw audiences in. One they are captivated, she hopes that viewers will see parallels between social activists then and now.

“History doesn’t repeat itself,” Burns reminded the audience, quoting Mark Twain. “It rhymes.”

As for its impact, Burns and Novick hope that the film not only educates, but also makes audiences aware of the ceaseless importance and power of social activism.