Entertainment

The Best Ken Burns Documentaries  

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984 votes 276 voters 17.1k views 28 items

List of the best movies produced by Ken Burns, with trailers of the films when available. Documentarian Ken Burns -- known for his slow pans of still images accompanied by reflective voiceovers and historian interviews -- released The Roosevelts: An Intimate History on September 15, 2014, his newest film for PBS. The mini-series tells the story of Teddy Roosevelt, his niece, and fifth cousin Franklin, looking deep into the private realities that often contrasted their public personas. Ken Burns' most famous films include Baseball, The Dust Bowl, The Central Park Five and The Civil War. Vote for your favorite Burns documentary and directly influence the order of this poll.

This list answers the questions "What movies has Ken Burns produced?" and "What are the best Ken Burns movies?" This list should include every Ken Burns movie. If there's a Ken Burns piece missing, you can add it.
list ordered by
1
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Morgan Freeman, Jeremy Irons, Derek Jacobi
The Civil War is a documentary film created by Ken Burns about the American Civil War. It was first broadcast on PBS on five consecutive nights from September 23 to 27, 1990. Approximately 40 ...more
2
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The Roosevelts: an Intimate History
3
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Baseball is an 18½ hour, Emmy Award-winning documentary series by Ken Burns about the game of baseball. First broadcast on PBS, this was Burns' ninth documentary and won the 1995 ...more
4
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Tom Hanks, John Lithgow, George Takei
The National Parks: America's Best Idea is a 2009 documentary film for television, DVD and companion book by director/producer Ken Burns and producer/writer Dayton Duncan which features the ...more
5
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Adam Arkin, Tom Hanks, Robert Wahlberg
The War is a seven-part American documentary television mini-series about World War II from the perspective of the United States. The program was produced by American filmmakers Ken Burns and ...more
6
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Matthew Broderick, Sam Waterston, Hal Holbrook
Lewis Clark - The Journey of the Corps of Discovery is a 1997 film directed by Ken Burns.
7
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The Dust Bowl Peter Coyote
The Dust Bowl is a documentary film directed by Ken Burns which aired on Public Broadcasting System on November 18 and 19, 2012. The four-part miniseries recounts the impact of the Dust Bowl on ...more
8
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Tom Hanks, Samuel L. Jackson, Jeremy Irons
Prohibition is a TV program.
9
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Jazz
10
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Gwyneth Paltrow, Blythe Danner, Sam Waterston
Thomas Jefferson is a 1997 three-part American documentary film directed and produced by Ken Burns. It covers the life and times of Thomas Jefferson, the 3rd President of the United States. In ...more
11
The West is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Ken Burns Documentaries
The West Chris Kalhoon, Adam LaFramboise
12
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Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa
THE TENTH INNING is a two-part, four-hour documentary film directed by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick. A new chapter in Burns's landmark 1994 series, BASEBALL, THE TENTH INNING tells the tumultuous ...more
13
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The Central Park Five is a 2012 documentary film about the Central Park jogger case, directed by documentary filmmaker Ken Burns, his daughter Sarah Burns, and her husband David McMahon. It was ...more
14
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Mark Twain Cynthia Nixon, Blythe Danner, Keith David
Mark Twain is a documentary film on the life of Mark Twain, also known as Samuel Clemens, produced by Ken Burns in 2001 which aired on Public Broadcasting System on January 14 and 15, 2002. ...more
15
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Samuel L. Jackson, Alan Rickman, Billy Bob Thornton
Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson is a documentary by filmmaker Ken Burns based on the nonfiction book of the same name by Geoffrey C. Ward. In Burns' signature style the ...more
16
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Jason Robards Jr.
Empire of the Air: The Men Who Made Radio is a non-fiction book by Tom Lewis, a history of radio in the United States, published by HarperCollins in 1991. The book was adapted into both a 1992 ...more
17
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The Shakers: Hands to Work, Hearts to God
The Shakers: Hands to Work, Hearts to God is Ken Burns's second film, released in 1984. Narrated by David McCullough, this hour-long documentary features interviews with several living Shakers ...more
18
Yosemite: a Gathering of Spiri... is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Ken Burns Documentaries
Yosemite: a Gathering of Spirit
19
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Frank Lloyd Wright
Frank Lloyd Wright is a 1998 biography, history and documentary film written by Geoffrey C. Ward and directed by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick.
20
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The Statue of Liberty is a 1985 American documentary film on the history of the Statue of Liberty. It was produced and directed by Ken Burns. The film first aired on October 28, 1985. It was ...more
21
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Keith David, Charles Durning, Sally Kellerman
Not for Ourselves Alone: The Story of Elizabeth Cady Stanton & Susan B. Anthony is a 1999 documentary by Ken Burns produced for National Public Radio and WETA. The documentary explores the ...more
22
Thomas Hart Benton is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Ken Burns Documentaries
Thomas Hart Benton
23
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Brooklyn Bridge
Brooklyn Bridge is a documentary film on the history of the Brooklyn Bridge. It was produced by Ken Burns in 1981. The film included interviews with personalities such as writer Arthur Miller. ...more
24
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The Congress is a 1988 documentary film directed by Emmy Award-winning director Ken Burns. The Florentine Films production, which focuses on the United States Congress, aired on PBS in 1989. ...more
25
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Horatio's Drive: America's First Road Trip Tom Hanks
Horatio's Drive: America's First Road Trip is a 2003 documentary film directed by Ken Burns and written by Dayton Duncan. Its subject is the first cross-country automobile journey in the United ...more