The BEST episodes directed by Ric Burns

The Donner Party
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9.79
33 votes

#1 - The Donner Party

American Experience - Season 5 - Episode 3

Tragic tale of families attempting a short-cut passage to California in the 1840s, with narration of their life-and-death struggle taken from their own journals.

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New York (5): Cosmopolis (1919-1931)
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9.00
2 votes

#2 - New York (5): Cosmopolis (1919-1931)

American Experience - Season 12 - Episode 5

In this short but dazzling period, New York became the focal point of an extraordinary array of human and cultural energies, reaching its highest levels of urban excitement and glamour. In just over a decade, New York gave birth to its signature skyscrapers, the Chrysler and Empire State Buildings, and to artistic creations like F. Scott Fitzgerald's THE GREAT GATSBY, George Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue," and to the jazz compositions of Duke Ellington and Louis Armstrong. Along the way, Harlem emerged as the undisputed capital of the African- American experience and the new media industries of advertising, radio networks, public relations, and magazines found their homes in midtown Manhattan.

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New York (3): Sunshine and Shadow (1865-1898)
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8.67
3 votes

#3 - New York (3): Sunshine and Shadow (1865-1898)

American Experience - Season 12 - Episode 3

Now the spotlight shines on the growth, glamour and grief of New York during America's giddy postwar "Gilded Age." Exploring the incomparable wealth of the robber barons and the unabashed corruption of political leaders, such as Tammany Hall boss William M. Tweed, the episode examines the era when the expansion of wealth and poverty -- and the schism between them -- built to a crescendo. The program ends as the city itself dramatically expands its boundaries, annexing Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx and Staten Island into a single massive metropolis -- Greater New York.

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Andy Warhol: A Documentary
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8.50
2 votes

#4 - Andy Warhol: A Documentary

American Masters - Season 20 - Episode 6

Ric Burns unearths rarely seen footage and offers keen observations on the life and artistic influence of Andy Warhol. Ric Burns' absorbing profile of Andy Warhol (1928-87) traces the pop icon's rise from poverty to an artist who said art critic Dave Hickey, “changed the world.”

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New York (1): The Country and the City (1609-1825)
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8.33
3 votes

#5 - New York (1): The Country and the City (1609-1825)

American Experience - Season 12 - Episode 1

The series begins by identifying the key themes that shaped New York's history: commerce and capitalism, diversity and democracy, transformation and creativity. The episode charts the development of the city founded by the Dutch as a purely commercial enterprise, first as New Amsterdam, a freewheeling enclave of trade and opportunity; then as the British New York, a colony fueled by slavery which was bestowed as a birthday gift upon the Duke of York by his brother, King Charles; soon after as a strategically pivotal locale in the American Revolution; and ultimately as the city of New York: the nation's first capital and the place destined to define urban life in America -- and American ideals.

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New York (2): Order and Disorder (1825-1865)
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8.33
3 votes

#6 - New York (2): Order and Disorder (1825-1865)

American Experience - Season 12 - Episode 2

Already established as America's premier port, New York City swelled into the nation's greatest industrial metropolis as a massive wave of German and Irish immigration turned the city into one of the world's most complex urban environments, bringing with it a host of new social problems. Episode Two reveals how the city's artists, innovators and leaders, from poet Walt Whitman to Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux (the designers of Central Park) grappled with the city's growing conflicts -- which culminated in the catastrophic Civil War Draft Riots of 1863.

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New York (4): The Power and the People (1898-1918)
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8.33
3 votes

#7 - New York (4): The Power and the People (1898-1918)

American Experience - Season 12 - Episode 4

As New York spilled into the new century, the extraordinary interplay of capitalism, democracy and transformation surged to a climax. During a single generation, over 10 million immigrants arrived in New York. The city itself became an even more dramatic lure with the construction of the first subways and skyscrapers. And arising from the plight of New York's most exploited citizens came landmark legislation that would eventually transform the lives of all Americans.

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New York (8): The Center of the World
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8.00
3 votes

#8 - New York (8): The Center of the World

American Experience - Season 16 - Episode 1

A documentary film examines the rise and fall of the World Trade Center -- from its conception in the post-World War II economic boom, through its controversial construction in the 1960s and 1970s, to its tragic demise in the fall of 2001 and extraordinary response of the city in its aftermath.

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We Shall Remain (2): Tecumseh's Vision
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8.00
2 votes

#9 - We Shall Remain (2): Tecumseh's Vision

American Experience - Season 21 - Episode 6

The story of a great Native American alliance to counter the 1800s US westward expansion from the Atlantic coast.

Into the Deep: America, Whaling and the World
star
8.00
3 votes

#10 - Into the Deep: America, Whaling and the World

American Experience - Season 22 - Episode 8

The story of the American whaling industry and its role in the development of the ocean-going capacites of the 19th century United States.

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Death and the Civil War
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8.00
1 votes

#11 - Death and the Civil War

American Experience - Season 24 - Episode 8

With the coming of the Civil War, and the staggering casualties it ushered in, death entered the experience of the American people as it never had before -- permanently altering the character of the republic and the psyche of the American people. Contending with death on an unprecedented scale posed challenges for which there were no ready answers when the war began. Americans worked to improvise new solutions, new institutions, and new ways of coping with death on an unimaginable scale.

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The Pilgrims
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8.00
1 votes

#12 - The Pilgrims

American Experience - Season 27 - Episode 11

The challenges the Pilgrims faced in making new lives for themselves still resonate almost 400 years later: the tensions of faith and freedom in American society, the separation of Church and State, and cultural encounters resulting from immigration.

New York (7): The City and the World (1945-2000)
star
7.50
2 votes

#13 - New York (7): The City and the World (1945-2000)

American Experience - Season 14 - Episode 2

In exploring the social, economic and physical forces that swept through the city in the post-war period, Episode Seven examines the great African-American migration and Puerto Rican immigration of the '40s, '50s, and '60s; the beginnings of white flight and suburbanization; and the massive physical changes wrought by highways and urban renewal -- all of which were directed, to a surprising degree, by one man: Robert Moses. The film comes to a climax with the destruction of Penn Station, the battle over the Lower Manhattan Expressway, the social and fiscal crises of the '60s and '70s, and New York's miraculous revival in the last quarter-century.

New York (6): The City of Tomorrow (1929-1941)
star
7.00
1 votes

#14 - New York (6): The City of Tomorrow (1929-1941)

American Experience - Season 14 - Episode 1

In little more than ten years, immense new forces were unleashed in New York, from the Depression itself to the New Deal, which permanently altered the city and the country. Along the way, two of the most remarkable New Yorkers of all time came to the fore: Mayor Fiorello La Guardia and master builder Robert Moses, both of whom attempted to create, in the darkest of times, a bold new city of the future. The episode examines their careers in detail, as well as the immense public works that transformed the city in the '30s. Also explored are the demise of Mayor Jimmy Walker, the coming of the New Deal, the fate of Harlem during the Depression, and the increasingly complex impact of the automobile on the city.

Coney Island
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#15 - Coney Island

American Experience - Season 3 - Episode 14

A history of the three major amusement parks that made Coney Island one of America's favorite recreational diversions in the early to mid 20th century and the ultimate fate of Coney Island.

The Way West (1): Westward, the Course of Empire Takes Its Way (1845-1864)
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#16 - The Way West (1): Westward, the Course of Empire Takes Its Way (1845-1864)

American Experience - Season 7 - Episode 15

The westward expansion of the United States and the re-shaping of the destiny of white and native people - from the Gold Rush to Wounded Knee.

The Way West (2): The Approach of Civilization (1865-1869)
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#17 - The Way West (2): The Approach of Civilization (1865-1869)

American Experience - Season 7 - Episode 16

The westward expansion of the United States and the re-shaping of the destiny of white and native people - from the Gold Rush to Wounded Knee.

The Way West (3): The War for the Black Hills (1870-1876)
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#18 - The Way West (3): The War for the Black Hills (1870-1876)

American Experience - Season 7 - Episode 17

The westward expansion of the United States and the re-shaping of the destiny of white and native people - from the Gold Rush to Wounded Knee.

Ansel Adams
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#19 - Ansel Adams

American Experience - Season 14 - Episode 11

From the day that a 14-year-old Ansel Adams first saw the transcendent beauty of the Yosemite Valley, his life was, in his words, "colored and modulated by the great earth-gesture of the Sierra." Few American photographers have reached a wider audience than Adams, and none has had more impact on how Americans grasp the majesty of their continent. In this elegant, moving and lyrical portrait of the most eloquent and quintessentially American of photographers, producer Ric Burns seeks to explore the meaning and legacy of Adams' life and work. At the heart of the film are the great themes that absorbed Adams throughout his career: the beauty and fragility of "the American earth," the inseparable bond of man and nature, and the moral obligation the present owes to the future.

Eugene O'Neill
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#20 - Eugene O'Neill

American Experience - Season 18 - Episode 9

The life of one of the 20th century's most acclaimed playwrights.

The Way West (4): Ghost Dance (1877-1893)
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#21 - The Way West (4): Ghost Dance (1877-1893)

American Experience - Season 7 - Episode 18

Chronicles the crackdown on Native American tribes across the Northwest in the aftermath of the Battle of the Little Big Horn in June 1876, and charts the final, desperate days of Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull. Examines the rise of the heartbreaking Ghost Dance religion, and the last, horrendous massacre at Wounded Knee.

The Mayflower Pilgrims: Behind The Myth
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#22 - The Mayflower Pilgrims: Behind The Myth

BBC Documentaries - Season 2016 - Episode 353

The voyage of the Mayflower in 1620 has come to define the founding moment of America, celebrated each year at Thanksgiving. A lavish new drama documentary by Ric Burns, based on governor William Bradford's extraordinary eye-witness account, the Mayflower Pilgrims reveals the grim truth behind their voyage across the Atlantic.

Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided to Go for It
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#23 - Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided to Go for It

American Masters - Season 36 - Episode 1

For over 70 years, Rita Moreno has inspired audiences with her performances, the film follows her journey from her childhood to stardom.