Fabulous documentary about the most famous bridge in the wor
Janice M. Mahon | Annapolis, MD | 10/30/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I just finished reading David McCullough's book "The Great Bridge, the Epic Story of the Building of the Brooklyn Bridge" which I bought on Amazon. Then I purchased Ken Burns' DVD. The bridge was built during the most incredible hardships, and was finished in 1883, and it is still in use today. As a native New Yorker, I am so proud of this bridge, I love to just look at it and dream.
The DVD is very informative, John Roebling's vision of a bridge scanning the two cities of New York and Brooklyn. Roebling lost his life due to a stupid mistake, getting his foot caught in a dock when a boat came in. He died of lock jaw, a horrible death from tetanus. His son, Washington Roebling, took over the planning and construction of the bridge.
A must see DVD of the wonderful and spectacular Brooklyn Bridge. I am so happy to own this DVD and will treasure it forever. And so will you!"
A surprisingly good early effort from Ken Burns
Robert Moore | Chicago, IL USA | 11/16/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"In August of 2007 I was in New York on a business trip but found myself with a free afternoon. I was staying in the Wall Street area but decided to take a long trip. I took the subway to 7200 Central Park West. From there I walked all the way across the park and then down 5th Avenue to St. Patrick's Cathedral. From there I walked across the street to Rockefeller Plaza, then all the way over to Broadway, down to Times Square, and then all the way down Broadway to Fifth Avenue again, and from there to Washington Square. I took a break by visiting Cafe Espanol, which I've been visiting since first being introduced to it by my good friend Johnny Wink. After eating their paella and a delicious margarita I was recharged and ready to go again. I walked down through Soho, through Little Italy and then Chinatown. I then on the spur of the moment decided to do something that I had long intended to do but had never gotten around to: walk across the Brooklyn Bridge. So even though my feel were killing me, I made the long walk all the way over to the Brooklyn side, then turned around and then walked back. The Brooklyn Bridge has always been one of my favorite bridges; in fact, my favorite along with the Forth Bridge in Scotland, which I sadly have never seen (which I first learned about watching Hitchcock's THE 39 STEPS). The sheer beauty of the bridge has always astonished me. Walking across it was a way of sealing how I felt about it. One of my closest friends drives across it daily, something I would envy her for, except for the traffic and the living in NYC. I even took some photos, though it was too dark by the time I got there and my flash too weak. My best photo interestingly bore a striking resemblance to the very last shot in this documentary, though mine was achieved not through artistry but from using what light I had.
While Ken Burns's first documentary lacks the sophistication and smoothness of his later efforts, it is amazing how many of the elements that we associate with Burns's work was already in place. The main difference between this film and later ones is pacing. Everything feels rushed and hurried, though this may be because of limitations that were placed on it. But it doesn't have as much dramatic drive as his other films and there are some oddities, such as using David McCullough both as the narrator and an interviewee. But in so many ways the rhythm just feels off. The film works, but it doesn't work as well as his subsequent efforts.
Still, everything that we associate with Ken Burns was already in place. The use of actors to do period voices, the splendid period photos, interviewing critics and experts and employing their analysis, and the use of a primary narrator (in this case David McCullough, whom Burns would use several times again, most notably in THE CIVIL WAR). The rudiments were set. I absolutely loved the photos used in this one, especially the ones with the towers completed but the bridge itself incomplete. The film left me sufficiently interested to consider reading McCullough's book. For instance, at one point we see a train going across the bridge. There is no longer a train on the bridge, so I would like to know when the tracks were removed.
A couple of minor comments. In the clip with Frank Sinatra running across the bridge I was surprised to see that he runs like a girl. I love Frank Sinatra, but he looked pretty silly when he ran. At another point there are some shots of the Statue of Liberty while it was being constructed. Four years later Burns would release a documentary on it as well."