The Ken Burns Documentary Quiz


By: Staff

4 Min Quiz

Image: refer to hsw

About This Quiz

Filmmaker Ken Burns has made some of the most compelling and important documentaries of our time. But do you know your "Ashokan Farewell" from your Eleanor Roosevelt? Take this quiz to jump into the world of public television.

Before we jump into his films, let's do our own little investigation into Ken Burns himself. Where was Burns born?

Burns was born in Brooklyn, although he now lives in New Hampshire.


What did Burns study in college?

Although at Hampshire College — Burns' alma mater — there weren't strict disciplines for study.


Burns' co-founded a film production company called what?

The company was founded in 1976.


What was the subject of Burns' first film?

The famous bridge became Burns' first muse.


How old was Burns when "Brooklyn Bridge" aired?

Burns had begun working on the project years before, but the result aired in 1981.


Where did "Brooklyn Bridge" find an audience?

The movie aired on PBS, starting a lifelong partnership between Burns and the Public Broadcasting System.


What minority Christian religion was the subject of Burns' second documentary feature?

"The Shakers: Hands to Work, Hearts to God" traced the history and principles of the Shaker religion.


What other iconic American monument did Burns make a documentary about?

"The Statue of Liberty" aired on PBS in 1985.


What respected historian has narrated many of Burns' films?

McCullough's book about the Brooklyn Bridge also inspired Burns' interest in it.


What artist did Burns choose as a subject for a 1988 film?

Benton's work depicted a rough and tumble version of American life.


Burns' 2005 feature "Unforgivable Blackness" detailed the life of …

The turn-of-the-century boxer was voiced by Samuel L. Jackson in the film.


In 1992, Burns turned to another medium as the subject for a film. What was it?

"Empire of the Air" traced the history and decline of the airwaves through three of its pioneers.


What politician did Ken Burns NOT make a documentary about?

But hey, give him time.


How many episodes was Burns' "Civil War" series?

The nine-part series aired in 1990.


How many archival photographs were included in the series?

One of the first military engagements fought after the advent of photography, Burns and his crew scoured the historical record for images.


How many viewers watched the original "Civil War" on PBS?

The airing was a significant network event.


What's the name of the original musical theme composed for the series?

Fiddliest Jay Ungar wrote the tune before the series, but presented it to Burns when composing the soundtrack for the film.


What historian was the primary on-camera interview for "The Civil War?"

Foote's gentle Southern drawl proved extremely popular with viewers.


What actor voiced Abraham Lincoln in the film?

The veteran actor gave necessary gravitas to Lincoln's written words.


How many episodes are in Burns' 1994 film "Baseball?"

Nine innings, nine episodes.


What famous actor was an interview subject for "Baseball?"

The comedian is a life-long Yankees fan.


The 2007 series "The War" faced controversy for what?

Burns later added in footage of Native American and Latino soldiers.


What musical genre did Burns turn his lens to in 2001?

"Jazz" was a study of both the genre and cultural history behind it.


Burns' film "Central Park Five" tells the story of five young men of color who were wrongfully convicted of raping a white woman. After the documentary aired in 2013, what happened to the men?

The men had filed a civil suit in 2003.


In 2010, Burns returned to a former film to add two more episodes. Which film was it?

In "Baseball: The Tenth Inning," Burns updated the last two decades of MLB history.


What famous American family got its due from Burns in a 2014 film?

Centered on Theodore, Eleanor and Franklin, the film explained the tumultuous history that accompanied the family's place in political power.


What was NOT a subject of Burns'?

Although if anyone could make the phone book come to life. . .


Burns has won what?

Among other awards and citations, he's also been nominated for two Academy Awards.


Barak Goodman directed the documentary "Cancer: The Emperor of All Maladies." What was Burns' credit for on the film?

Burns' also took a producing credit on 1996's "The West."


Burns' latest film is "Jackie Robinson." Who voices the pioneering ballplayer?

This is the first work Foxx has done with Burns.


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