The Congress (1988 film)

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The Congress
Directed by Ken Burns
Produced by Ken Burns
Stephen Ives
Written by David McCullough
Bernard Weisberger
Narrated by David McCullough
Edited by Sally Jo Menke
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release dates
March 20, 1989
Running time
90 min.
Country United States
Language English

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. Narrated by David McCullough, the documentary features use of photographs, paintings, and film from sessions of Congress, in its implementation of the Ken Burns Effect. Scenes from the Academy Award-winning James Stewart film Mr. Smith Goes to Washington are also used. The work features numerous interviews from writers and historians including Charles McDowell, David McCullough, Cokie Roberts, George Tames, David Broder, James MacGregor Burns, Barbara Fields, and Alistair Cooke. Many congressmen are specifically referenced, including Henry Clay, John C. Calhoun, Jefferson Davis, Thomas Brackett Reed, Joseph Gurney Cannon, George William Norris, Jeannette Rankin, and Everett Dirksen. The film also includes focus on the Congress' work during pivotal periods in United States history, including the Civil War, African-American Civil Rights Movement, and Women's suffrage. The documentary was released by PBS, on DVD in 2004.[1] Footage of the Capitol from the film was later incorporated into Ken Burn's later masterpiece work, The Civil War.


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