2014, TV

The Roosevelts: An Intimate History (2014, Ken Burns)

This is a very detailed and in depth documentary that attempts to link Theodore and Franklin Roosevelt not so much as a political dynasty but as men bent on the same mission.

It mostly succeeds but, like much of Burns’ work, can be at times a little too complimentary. Fortunately George Will is there to occasionally remind us that these were people and that they were not necessarily perfect human beings.

There is not quite enough of Will’s contrary opinion, but it’s hard to be really critical of such a long, detailed portrait. I guess, if you are looking for a little more objectivity, read (good) biographies of these people or, better yet, histories of the eras.


  • Based on The Roosevelts: An Intimate History by Geoffrey C. Ward and Ken Burns
  • Written by Geoffrey C. Ward
  • Directed by Ken Burns
  • Starring
    • Paul Giamatti – Theodore Roosevelt (voice)
    • Edward Herrmann – Franklin D. Roosevelt (voice)
    • Meryl Streep – Eleanor Roosevelt (voice)
    • John Lithgow – James Roosevelt (voice)
    • Patricia Clarkson – Margaret “Daisy” Suckley (voice)
    • Other voices include:
      • Adam Arkin,
      • Keith Carradine,
      • Kevin Conway,
      • Ed Harris,
      • Josh Lucas,
      • Carl Lumbly,
      • Amy Madigan,
      • Carolyn McCormick,
      • Pamela Reed,
      • Billy Bob Thornton,
      • Eli Wallach.
    • Jonathan Alter
    • H. W. Brands
    • Blanche Wiesen Cook
    • Doris Kearns Goodwin
    • Edna Gurewitsch
    • Clay S. Jenkinson
    • William Leuchtenburg
    • David McCullough
    • Jon Meacham
    • Patricia O’Toole
    • Geoffrey C. Ward
    • George Will
  • Narrated by Peter Coyote
  • Theme music composer David Cieri
  • Country of origin: United States
  • Original language: English
  • Episodes:
    1. Get Action (1858-1901)
    2. In the Arena (1901-1910)
    3. The Fire of Life (1910-1919)
    4. The Storm (1920-1933)
    5. The Rising Road (1933-1939)
    6. The Common Cause (1939-1944)
    7. A Strong and Active Faith (1944-1962)
  • Producers: Ken Burns, Paul Barnes, Pam Tubridy Baucom, Vivaan Salvi
  • Cinematography by Buddy Squires, Allen Moore, Nikhilesh Mehra
  • Editors: Paul Barnes, Tricia Reidy, Erik Ewers, Daniel J. White
  • Running time: 840 min
  • Production company: Florentine Films
  • Distributor: Public Broadcasting Service
  • Original network: PBS
  • Original release: September 14, 2014

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