An ongoing series of award-winning primetime specials examining the lives, works, and creative processes of our most outstanding cultural artists. Created in 1984, the series is both a celebration and an exploration of creativity in America, documenting the role important individuals, groups, and movements have played in the formation of our cultural identity.
Alice Walker: Beauty In Truth (#2606) Duration: 1:26:46 STEREO TVPG-L (Secondary audio: none)
Most famous for her seminal novel "The Color Purple," writer / activist Alice Walker celebrates her 70th birthday. Born February 9, 1944, into a family of sharecroppers in rural Georgia, her life unfolded during the violent racism and seismic social changes of mid-20th century America. Her mother, poverty and participation in the Civil Rights Movement were the formative influences on her consciousness, becoming the inherent themes in her writing. The first African-American woman to win a Pulitzer Prize for Literature, Walker continues to shine a light on global human rights issues. Her dramatic life is told with poetry and lyricism, and includes interviews with Steven Spielberg, Danny Glover, Quincy Jones, Howard Zinn, Gloria Steinem, Sapphire, and Walker herself. 90 minutes.
Dorothea Lange: Grab A Hunk of Lightning (#2704) Duration: 1:56:46 STEREO TVPG (Secondary audio: none)
Explore, through Lange's granddaughter's eyes, the life story of the influential "Migrant Mother" photographer. Never-before-seen photos and film footage, family memories and new interviews reveal the artist who challenged America to know itself.
Judy Garland: By Myself (#1704) Duration: 1:56:46 STEREO TVPG (Secondary audio: none)
Judy Garland had one of the most photographed faces ever to come out of Hollywood - it is stamped as a virtual imprint on our imaginations, a celluloid image frozen in time. She also had one of the most frequently recorded voices of the last century. She was magic, almost mythical. She is as iconic as she is misunderstood. There were her problems, to be sure, but the proof is in the performances, from The Wizard of Oz to the Palladium, from the Oscars to the Grammies. With singular entree to the MGM library, including vaulted screen tests and rehearsal footage, the film is wrapped in Judy's voice, actually telling her story in her own words. So many outsiders have tried to tell this story and so many friends and family have weighed in - now Judy gets center stage, all to herself. This is her ultimate comeback.
Harper Lee: Hey Boo (#2504H) Duration: 1:26:16 STEREO TVPG-L
Reading "To Kill a Mockingbird" has been a national pastime for five decades - it is still selling nearly a million copies a year, its classic popularity and power are a common reference. And the courtroom image of Gregory Peck, as the passionate Atticus Finch, gave us an enduring picture for the novel's message. Behind it all was a young Southern girl named Nelle Harper Lee, who once said she wanted to be Alabama's Jane Austen.
This program explores her life and unravels its mysteries, particularly why she never published again. Illuminated with family photos, revealing personal letters and an exclusive interview with her sister, Alice Finch Lee (100 years old), the film is steeped in the texture of the novel's Deep South and the social changes it inspired. Tom Brokaw, Rosanne Cash, Anna Quindlen, Scott Turow, Oprah Winfrey and Andrew Young reflect on how "Mockingbird" shaped their lives.
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Margaret Mitchell: American Rebel (#2503H) Duration: 56:46 SRND51 TVPG
No ordinary writer and no ordinary woman --"Gone with the Wind" created two of the world's greatest lovers, Scarlett and Rhett, won a Pulitzer Prize in 1937 and has sold more than 30 million copies. Born into Atlanta's upper crust in 1900, Margaret Mitchell challenged stifling social restrictions at every turn. A charismatic force to be reckoned with, she had a great sense of humor, was one of Georgia's first newspaper women and was extremely generous with the money she made from "Gone with the Wind." She struggled with the changing role of women and the liberation of African Americans but also suffered from lifelong bouts of depression, until a tragic accident lead to her death in 1949. This film examines the amazing endurance of "Gone with the Wind" and reveals the seminal events of Mitchell's life through dramatic re-enactments based on her letters, as scenes from the movie weave together her life and her work.
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John Muir in the New World (#2402H) Duration: 1:26:46 STEREO TVG
Nearly a century after his death, John Muir is remembered and revered as the father of the environmental movement, the father of conservation, and the founder of the Sierra Club. It was this Scottish-American who believed it was our responsibility as citizens to care for and protect our natural surroundings. He taught us by example and passion - through his actions, his writings, his art - how to do so. Through his tireless advocacy, he almost single-handedly saved the Yosemite Valley of California from destruction and was the force behind the creation of the National Parks Service. Filmed throughout the majestic, breathtaking landscapes and wilderness traveled by Muir those many years ago, this documentary places our nation's most important asset in a cultural and social context. Muir's story could not be a more timely reminder of America's unique and, ultimately, threatened eco-system.
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A Fierce Green Fire (#2701) Duration: 56:46 STEREO TVPG-V (Secondary audio: none)
This film is an exploration of the environmental movement - grassroots and global activism spanning 50 years from conservation to climate change. Inspired by the book of the same name by Philip Shabecoff and informed by advisors like Edward O. Wilson, this documentary chronicles the largest movement of the 20th century and one of the keys to the 21st. It brings together all the major parts of environmentalism and connects them. It focuses on activism, people fighting to save their homes, their lives, the future - and succeeding against all odds. The film is directed and written by Mark Kitchell, Academy Award-nominated director of Berkeley in the Sixties, and narrated by Robert Redford, Ashley Judd, Van Jones, Isabel Allende and Meryl Streep.
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Jascha Heifetz: God's Fiddler (#2802) Duration: 56:46 STEREO TVG (Secondary audio: none)
Discover the mysterious violin virtuoso through Itzhak Perlman, students, archival performances and home movies. His story embodies the paradox of artistic genius: how a mortal man lives with immortal gifts, honored at a lifelong price.
James Levine: America's Maestro (#2403) Duration: 56:46 STEREO TVG (Secondary audio: none)
To celebrate his 40th anniversary at the Metropolitan Opera in 2011, conductor James Levine's life and current work were the subject of this documentary, which captures the essence of his unparalleled musicianship and his singular teaching and performance style, while looking back at creative milestones since his Met debut in 1971 at the age of 28.
Over the course of a year, filmmaker Susan Froemke followed Levine. Included in the film are intimate scenes between the maestro and longtime collaborator Placido Domingo as they rehearse Verdi's Simon Boccanegra; intense rehearsals with the Met Orchestra as they prepare for their first performance of Beethoven's 5th Symphony at Carnegie Hall; and Levine's poignant coaching sessions with aspiring young singers preparing to launch their careers. The film provides a revealing portrait of one of classical music's giants, exploring how Levine transformed the Met's orchestra into one of the great ensembles, elicited legendary performances from leading singers, and nurtured new generations of artists.