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Ken Burns Quotes


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I treat the photograph as a work of great complexity in which you can find drama. Add to that a careful composition of landscapes, live photography, the right music and interviews with people, and it becomes a style.
 

In a sense I've made the same film over and over again. In all of them I've asked, 'Who are we as Americans?
 

In most films music is brought in at the end, after the picture is more or less locked, to amplify the emotions the filmmaker wants you to feel.
 

Jazz is a very accurate, curiously accurate accompaniment to 20th century America.
 

Like a layer on a pearl, you can't specifically identify the irritant, the moment of the irritant, but at the end of the day, you know you have a pearl.
 

Louis Armstrong is quite simply the most important person in American music. He is to 20th century music (I did not say jazz) what Einstein is to physics.
 

One of the things I really like about Ford's films is how there is always a focus on the way characters live, and not just the male heroes.
 

The flame is not out, but it is flickering.
 

The genius of our country is improvisation, and jazz reflects that. It's our great contribution to the arts.
 

The stories from 1975 on are not finished and there is no resolve. I could spend 50 hours on the last 25 years of jazz and still not do it justice.
 

The way I work, the interview never becomes larger than the person being interviewed.
 

To say that an artist sells out means that an artist is making a conscious choice to compromise his music, to to weaken his music for the sake of commercial gain.
 

We're having a hard time understanding where jazz is going. What happened to jazz?
 

When a documentary filmmaker, working in the style that I do, suggests that there has been a shooting ratio of 40 hours to every one hour of finished film, that doesn't mean that the other 39 are bad.
 

When you are editing, the final master is Aristotle and his poetics. You might have a terrific episode, but if people are falling out because there are just too many elements in it, you have to begin to get rid of things.
[Begin]
 

Wynton told us that Miles sold out, just wanted to make more money, just wanted to sell more records. I don't believe that Miles sold out but I'm not in a position to say.
 

You can learn as much about the history from reading about the present as you can vice versa, that is learning about the present through history, which is what I do for a living.
 

You don't work on something for six years and be blind to the myriad of other approaches.
 

You know, you meet some people, and do a lot of interviews, and you come across a Buck O'Neill and you know you are going to know him for the rest of your life. The same thing happened with Curt Flood.
 

You need, as a historian, essential triangulation from your subject and the only way you get that triangulation is through time.
 


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