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Ken Burns: Prohibition

Where to Watch Ken Burns: Prohibition

3
A Nation of Hypocrites
2011-10-04
Support for Prohibition continues to decrease in the mid-1920s; the law has actually provided gangsters a way to make huge profits. Following the election of Franklin D.

Watch Ken Burns: Prohibition Season 1 Episode 3 Now

2
A Nation of Scofflaws
2011-10-03
In the 1920s, Prohibition went into effect forbidding the making, transporting, or selling of intoxicating liquor. As holes are found in the laws, millions discover ways to get around them.

Watch Ken Burns: Prohibition Season 1 Episode 2 Now

1
A Nation of Drunkards
2011-10-02
Since the early years of the American Republic, alcohol has been embedded in the fabric of American culture. This is the story of the Eighteenth Amendment.

Watch Ken Burns: Prohibition Season 1 Episode 1 Now

"Ken Burns: Prohibition" is an enthralling historical documentary from PBS that aired in 2011. This compelling series delivers a riveting account of one of the most tumultuous periods in American history: the Prohibition era from 1920 to 1933. Directed by the acclaimed documentarian Ken Burns and Lynn Novick, Prohibition explores the societal and political shifts that led to the 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution banning the sale, production, importation, and transportation of alcoholic beverages.

Coupled with an outstanding voice cast, including notable American actors such as Adam Arkin, Philip Bosco, Patricia Clarkson, Peter Coyote, Blythe Danner, Paul Giamatti, Tom Hanks, Jeremy Irons, Samuel L. Jackson, John Lithgow, Josh Lucas, Amy Madigan, Oliver Platt, Campbell Scott, Frances Sternhagen and Sam Waterston, the programme offers an authoritative, in-depth look at the era. Each actor brings their unique talents in narrations and readings from historical documents and memoirs, adding drama and poignancy to the series.

"Ken Burns: Prohibition" is divided into three parts, each offering an extensive exploration of different aspects of Prohibition. The first part, 'A Nation of Drunkards', examines the roots of the temperance movement, chronicling the increasing societal concern over the damaging effects of alcohol on individuals and families. The episode traces the beginnings of political activism against alcohol and the eventual passing of the Prohibition Amendment.

The second part, 'A Nation of Scofflaws', shines a light on the impact of Prohibition after its enforcement. It reveals how the same legislation intended to protect society ended up propelling organized crime, government corruption, and public disillusionment. The focus is on how the 'noble experiment' augmented lawlessness and hypocrisy within American society.

The final part, 'A Nation of Hypocrites', studies the downfall of the Prohibition era and the eventual Repeal. It highlights the change in public sentiment and the mounting pressure that led to the introduction of the 21st Amendment, which effectively ended the prohibition experiment.

Impressively researched, "Ken Burns: Prohibition" also parades an array of archival footage, photographs, newspaper clippings, and artistic renditions. The attention to historical accuracy and comprehensive detailing is commendable, making it a diamond of a documentary. The narrative is further complemented by an evocative and stirring musical score by Wynton Marsalis that adds to the atmospheric retelling of this critical period in American history.

Themes of change, identity, power, rebellion, reform, morality, and corruption are woven into the fabric of the narrative. The series underscores the complexity of collectively banning a socially-entrenched practice and the unintended consequences that could result from it. While the focus of the series mainly orbits around Prohibition, it does not lose sight of elaborating on the broader socio-historical backdrop. It delves into women's suffrage, the Jazz Age, the Great Depression, and the cultural shift in America's social fabric during the early 20th century.

Moreover, the series does not sequester itself solely within the past. The directors draw persuasive parallels between the debates preceding the enactment of Prohibition and the contemporary debates about drugs, bringing a resonance that speaks to the present.

"Ken Burns: Prohibition" does not merely narrate historical facts but compels its viewers to reflect on them. This is perhaps its most poignant success. It challenges the viewer to question the balance between personal freedom and societal responsibility. It asks whether legislation is the appropriate tool to address complex societal issues or if it might inadvertently create a plethora of other problems.

In its entirety, "Ken Burns: Prohibition" offers a rich, evocative, and thoughtful exploration of the Prohibition era, the cultural and political forces that shaped it, the consequences it carried, and the lessons it imparts. It is a must-watch for anyone with an interest in American history and culture, sociology, or the timeless human differences over public policy and morality. True to Ken Burns' style, it offers not merely a history lesson, but a humane observation of American life in a dramatically transformative era.

Ken Burns: Prohibition is a series categorized as a currently airing. Spanning 1 seasons with a total of 3 episodes, the show debuted on 2011. The series has earned a mostly positive reviews from both critics and viewers. The IMDb score stands at 8.2.

Genres
History
Channel
PBS
Rating
8.2/10
Cast
Adam Arkin, Philip Bosco, Patricia Clarkson, Kevin Conway, Peter Coyote, Blythe Danner, Paul Giamatti, Tom Hanks, Jeremy Irons, Samuel L. Jackson, John Lithgow, Josh Lucas, Amy Madigan, Carolyn McCormick, Oliver Platt, Campbell Scott
Ken Burns: Prohibition is available on .