|Geoffrey C. Ward||Screenwriter|
Ken Burns' America: Thomas Hart Benton available in DVD
Ken Burns' America: Thomas Hart Benton comes to DVD with a standard full-frame transfer that preserves the original broadcast aspect ratio of 1.33:1. The English soundtrack is closed-captioned. There are no supplemental materials of any consequence, but those with an interest in learning about one of the most well-known American painters and fans of Ken Burns' unique style will enjoy this solid release from PBS.
This Ken Burns documentary does a very good job of presenting the basic facts of Benton's life and explaining the significance of his work. Several of Benton's colleagues provide insights into the man and his character, but for me the key insights are contributed by his daughter. The documentary also does a good job of explaining Benton's place in the American art world, and includes comments by those critical of his style. Benton's work is hard to present in the DVD format, because his murals are so large and ambitious. While the camera shows portions of his most famous murals, I wish the camera could have panned slowly across the complete span of Benton's "America Today" mural at the New School for Social Research in New York, because that mural could be considered his most ambitious project from a thematic point of view.