Ken Burns shows us how Benjamin Franklin has shaped our world

Ken Burns is cinema’s most important chronicle of American history, and so it’s only a matter of time before he turns his attention to the incredible life of the country’s iconic founding father. country. Benjamin Franklin is a celebration of a man who was so creative and changed the world, whose ideas were revolutionary and whose legacy is so vast that revisiting them can make one feel absolutely no ambition in comparison. At the heart of Burns’ latest PBS documentary, however, is a sense of Franklin not only as a genius, but as a self-made individual, as accessible and trustworthy as his members. His achievements are important. He was a man who was also an extraordinary giant, and is therefore rightly regarded, both then and now, as one of the greatest — if not the greatest — of the world. all Americans.

Premieres April 4 on PBS, two parts, four hours Benjamin Franklin follows the traditional Burn format. As the famous filmmaker’s camera pans slowly through archival paintings and close-ups of handwritten documents and articles, accomplished historians provide contextual narration and commentary while Appropriate stories are propelled by narration (courtesy of Peter Coyote) and from actors reading evangelistic books and speeches. That cast is led by Mandy Patinkin as Franklin and rounded up by the likes of Josh Lucas, Liam Neeson, Paul Giamatti and Adam Arkin, all of which helped liven up Franklin’s transition from adolescence fled to become a famous pioneer into an elderly statesman. It’s a style Burns has used for decades, and while it prevents the material from ever exploding with energetic vitality, it exudes a measure of gravity, precision and comprehensiveness well suited to the academic task at hand.

Benjamin Franklin persuasively suggests that, when it comes to the United States, Franklin is an ADMINISTRATIVE, and not just because of his primary role in the colonies’ fight for independence. By all accounts, Franklin was – and still is – the ideal embodiment of the nation’s character, while at the same time industrious, inquisitive, ambitious, innovative, and forward-thinking. and independence, and his rise from humble origins to the heights of global fame have made him as close as anyone has ever come to the embodiment of the American Dream. That journey began when, after a successful apprenticeship if fighting at his brother’s fledgling Boston newspaper, Franklin – with only two years of formal education under him – fled to Philadelphia. An avid reader with an insatiable thirst for knowledge, Franklin built something like a printing press. After a subsequent trip to London that further enlightened his mind, he returned to Philly to start his own business, guided by four basic rules he had codified for himself. : must be extremely frugal; attempt to tell the truth; apply yourself diligently; and do not speak ill of the man.

Franklin’s subsequent victories are legendary, from founding the country’s first National Library Company, to founding the original non-denominational college, the Philadelphia Public Academy (now known as the Philadelphia Public Academy. is the University of Pennsylvania), to create popularity Poor Richard’s Almanac—Which has cemented his unparalleled gift of witty, hilarious aphorisms such as “God helps those who help themselves” and “The rush to waste” —to be appointed principal the continent’s first official post office, allowing him to simultaneously unite the different colonies and achieve an incomparable understanding of their citizens. He considered the “Don’t Tread on Me” flag as a symbol of unity and strength of the United States, and made innovative discoveries related to the Gulf Stream. It’s an understatement to say he’s a master of all professions — and that was even before one came up with his groundbreaking work as a scientist, best known by the moniker. “Modern Prometheus” for uncovering the mysteries of electricity through his experiments with kites and the Key.

Equal at home in working-class accompaniment and in court, a fighter for self-reliance and cooperation, a writer and a scientist, and a believer in freedom but still owning slaves (an act he denounced at the end of his life), Franklin was a man of many contradictions, and Burns’ documentary recognizes that these dualities are an aspect of his life. fundamental edge of his complex nature. Even when it comes to his loved ones, Franklin is defined by conflicting attitudes and ideals, at once loyal to his usual wife Deborah but also frequently absent from her side, and completely devoted. for his son William’s success until they crash. a terrible, irreparable rift caused by William – serving as governor of New Jersey – choosing to stick with the Crown, and thus oppose his father during the Revolutionary War. Charming and edgy, smart and adaptable, he’s always active and through Benjamin Franklin authoritatively demonstrates his bubbly personality, his inquisitiveness and openness, as well as his persistent desire to know all about everything.

“Charming and edgy, intelligent and adaptable, he’s dynamic throughout and ‘Benjamin Franklin’ authoritatively showcases his bubbly personality, inquisitiveness and openness, as well as his persistent desire to know everything about everything.”

Burns and writer Dayton Duncan clearly detail how Franklin shaped the future of his homeland and how larger geopolitical events changed his worldview. Arguably the most important event of his 84 years took place on January 29, 1774, during his long stay in London, when — shortly after the Boston tea party — he was called to the Cockpit at Whitehall to meet Secret Service. Council (a group of advisers to King George III), and was mocked and accused of being an instigator of American fundamentalism. Enduring this torture in stoic silence, Franklin realized that, though he had always been a staunch supporter of the monarchy, England would never see him (or his other colonists) as a their people. It was at that point that he truly became an American patriot, committed to sovereignty and beyond, following the principles he and later founders set forth in the Declaration of Independence. and the Constitution.

Benjamin Franklin may not be as flashy as most docuseries, and it doesn’t break new ground or strain to understand its subject in modern terms. Instead, it is simply a comprehensive and unambiguous portrait of one of the most famous celebrities of the 18th century, whose noble soul helped give birth to a nation that changed radically. the future of humanity — through the concept that freedom can and should triumph over tyranny — and ultimately inspired many great thinkers in many fields (scientific, industrial, media, politics) that it’s hard to name an American who has ever accomplished more. Ken Burns shows us how Benjamin Franklin has shaped our world

Russell Falcon

Russell Falcon is a Interreviewed U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Russell Falcon joined Interreviewed in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing:

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