The form and aesthetic of Ken Burns’ documentary work has become so well-known and so well-defined at this point that there are probably people out there working in the audiovisual arts who know how to use the “Ken Burns effect,” but have no idea where the term came from. From the breakthrough doc, Brooklyn Bridge, that launched his career, to his big documentary series that defined it, like The Civil War and Baseball, Burns has continuously proven himself to be an icon of the documentary filmmaking game.
So when a new trailer for one of his movies comes out, you pretty much know what to expect. The only real questions are going to be, “What’s this one about? What new subject is he going to be poring over archival documents to research?” This time around Burns has made a film (alongside co-directors Sarah Burns and David McMahon) called The Central Park Five, which details the conviction and incarceration of five teenagers who were wrongly accused of committing a rape in Central Park back in 1989.
As can be imagined, five young people having their lives stolen from them for spans ranging from 6 to 13 years is a story that’s both emotionally affecting and deeply interesting already, so in the hands of Burns it should make for a must-see film. From the looks of this trailer Burns seems to not only be focusing on the human element of youths being wrongly imprisoned, but also looking at the story through the lenses of racism, police corruption, and mob mentality, effectively creating a rich, nuanced work. You know, the usual.
You’ll get your chance to see what he’s come up with for yourself when it starts to roll out to select theaters starting on November 23rd.