Thursday, August 7, 2014

Ken Burns' "Empire of the Air" (plus update about "Movie Night on the Creek")

Cover Art from Ken Burns' Empire Of The Air.
Credit: Antique Wireless Association (Artwork)/
Florentine Films/Public Broadcasting Service.
As a person who is interested in classic/contemporary film, I always enjoy watching the documentary films of Ken Burns (which are telecast from time to time on PBS).  The Brooklyn Bridge, The Statue of Liberty, The Congress, The Civil War, Baseball, Frank Lloyd Wright, Lewis & Clark, Jazz, Mark Twain, Horatio's Drive, The National Parks, The War, The Dust Bowl, and the upcoming documentary on the Roosevelts.

One of his documentaries, Empire of the Air- examines the pioneers of radio broadcasting (originally telecast in 1991). Narrated by Jason Robards (1922-2000), Ken Burns' documentary showcases three iconic innovators - Lee DeForest, inventor of the audion vacuum tube; Edwin Howard Armstrong, inventor of the regenerative circuit, the superheterodyne radio receiver and "frequency modulation"- or FM radio broadcasting; and David Sarnoff, who created one of the biggest communications companies.

Empire of the Air goes through the innovators' triumphs and struggles, programming during radio's "golden era", early FM broadcasts, radio's role in the Second World War, and early television technology.  The documentary features interviews (and recollections of radio) with noted radio dramatist Norman Corwin (1910-2011), sports commentator Red Barber (1908-1992), Jeanne Hammond- niece of Edwin Howard Armstrong, broadcast historian Erik Barnouw (1908-2001), and Garrison Keillor, writer and host of public radio's A Prairie Home Companion (which is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year).

Ken Burns' Empire of the Air is an insightful documentary about the pioneers of broadcasting and communications.  If you've never seen the film before, see it when you have the chance.  It is available on DVD (also part of the Ken Burns' America box set, along with The Brooklyn Bridge, The Statue of Liberty, The Congress, Thomas Hart Benton, Huey Long, and The Shakers) and streaming through Amazon Instant.

UPDATE: "MOVIE NIGHT ON THE CREEK" At The Matinee's previous post was about the Downtown Frederick Partnership and their event, Movie Night on the Creek.  The author contacted the executive director of the organization, Ms. Kara Norman about the possibility of showcasing classic and contemporary motion pictures for future Movie Night events.

Yet unfortunately (according to the message), the organization doesn't have plans of showcasing classic/contemporary feature films for this year's event.  No other plans have been made for films that will be showcased for the 2015 Movie Night season.  ATM appreciates the Downtown Frederick Partnership and Ms. Norman's quick response- yet it would be nice if classic/contemporary films were added to future Movie Night screenings.

As this author has stated before, classic/contemporary/cult cinema is severely under-appreciated in the Frederick area.  It would be nice to see classic films (in the area) the way they were meant to be seen- on the big screen.

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The proprietor of "At The Matinee", Chris Hamby- welcomes your comments and suggestions on any post featured. NOTE: All comments are monitored by the author.