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Sunday, September 18, 2016

Highly Recommended Television - The Roosevelets - A Ken Burns Documentary

For all my readers with plenty of spare time and an iPad or laptop, I highly recommend sitting down to watch the superb documentary series 'The Roosevelts - An Intimate History' by renowned documentary maker Ken Burns.

Not only does Ken Burns do a great job of sifting through the content and collating the stories that come from this dynamic family, but he also then magically brings it all to life through the inimitable voice of Peter Coyote in narration with Paul Giammati and Meryl Streep also providing wonderful voice overs for the words of Teddy and Eleanor Roosevelt respectively.

It takes a documentary like this to put all the pieces of a puzzle together in your head. As an Australian you read about Teddy Roosevelt and then Franklin Roosevelt, and you might then bother to make the family connection through a Wikipedia page - but nothing like this. Nothing about the heroes and heroines of the family, where the wealth came from, what education they had, what friends they kept, how they formed their world views etc. This is exactly as it is titled, an intimate history, and I highly recommend it to all our blog readers.

As we head towards another US Presidential Election, it is always exciting to look back on the past and to see what came before us before looking towards the future. The major events of the 20th Century were played out between relatively few characters and can often be whittled down to key relationships, such as that mutual rapport that came between Churchill and FDR.

One of the more jovial moments of this documentary series is when Churchill is staying at the White House towards the end of WWII. Both men are discussing the prospective establishment of the United Nations post the conclusion of the war. One observer remarked that they were like two school boys playing. Franklin Delano Roosevelt, unable to sleep and restless with ideas, wheeled himself across the hall and straight into Winston Churchill's bedroom where a pinkish Churchill was completely nude having just finished with his bath. So the story goes, Roosevelt apologised for intruding to which Churchill responded "There is nothing that the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom wishes to hide from the President Of The United States" .

I have ruined one joke this week, I do hope that I just did justice to Churchill's quip. Regardless, this is great television and I cannot recommend it enough.


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