In an immersive 10-part series, Ken Burns and Lynn Novick tell the epic story of The Vietnam War as it has never before been told on film. The Vietnam War features testimony from nearly 100 witnesses, including many Americans who fought in the war and others who opposed it, as well as Vietnamese combatants and civilians from both the winning and losing sides. 10 years in the making, the series brings the war and the chaotic epoch it encompassed viscerally to life. Written by Geoffrey C. Ward, produced by Sarah Botstein, Novick and Burns, it includes rarely seen, digitally re-mastered archival footage from sources around the globe, photographs taken by some of the most celebrated photojournalists of the 20th century, historic television broadcasts, evocative home movies, revelatory audio recordings from inside the Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon administrations.
The series also features new, original music written and recorded by Academy Award-winning composers Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross. "From the beginning of this project, we dreamed of working with Trent and Atticus," Novick said. "The profound, haunting, unsettling and deeply moving music they created for us does what great music does best – express the inexpressible. They miraculously evoked so many of the complicated feelings embedded in this painful and tragic story. It is no exaggeration to say that they completely transformed our film." "It has been a tremendous privilege to work with these brilliant artists," Burns adds. "The stirring and complex music they created for the series goes straight to the heart of the human condition in all of its subtleties and contradictions. Simultaneously melodic and discordant, propulsive and ethereal, their work was integral to bringing this history to life on screen."
Over the course of several years, Burns, Novick and Botstein shared with Reznor and Ross raw interview footage and scenes from rough cuts of the film, and suggested a range of feelings they hoped the music would evoke – rage, courage, sadness, fear, chaos, loss, love, sacrifice, aggression, loneliness, anxiety. They also provided a collection of sound effects from the era for the composers to work with. "We are incredibly honored to be a part of this project. With ‘The Vietnam War,' Ken, Lynn and Sarah have created something of vital importance. To bear witness to their process was immensely inspiring. The sheer scale of the project combined with the magnitude of the subject matter was initially daunting for us, but the commitment, care and reverence they displayed made the experience deeply satisfying on many levels," said Reznor and Ross in a joint statement.