Saturday, September 14, 2013

Civil War: The Untold Story

“Civil War: The Untold Story” from Denver’s Great Divide Pictures will air on public TV as a five-hour documentary in 2014 and will vary from Ken Burns’ 1990 “glorified slideshow” in several ways. First, “Untold” deals with the often overshadowed Western Campaign; second, re-enactments of battles, lacking from Burns’ bloopers, makes this new work more cinematic; and third, we are told it will include “the relatively unknown roles African-Americans played in the conflict,” probably omitting those who were Confederate soldiers. The trailers look good and a number of Georgia re-enactors worked on portions of it.
“The Untold Story” differs, too, by pointing to America’s painful, ongoing philosophical rift and carries the tag-line, “it’s not just about who we were then, it’s about who we are now.” This implies that 1860 events can be honestly judged by modern conscience.
Already, we are told, this format “has inspired hate mail from neo-Confederate groups on the radical right.” Liberally translated, “neo Confederates” are those who prefer a factual past to Northern myths. It is not a threatening gesture to refute the erroneous hypothesis that the war was fought solely over slavery. Generally, what we were taught in school was far from “the whole truth and nothing but the truth.”
The arguments endure. Why does a state not have the right to secede from a union it freely joined? Is government intended to work for the people, or encroach upon their lives? Do Southern people have the same civil rights as everyone else?
-- John Wayne Dobson