Skip to comments.You say you want a revolution? [TV Series on French&Indian War Alert]
Posted on 01/12/2006 5:24:59 AM PST by Pharmboy
When reflecting upon the momentous battles that shaped America as a country, most go no further back than the Revolutionary War.
The French and Indian War, or what British and Canadians refer to as the Seven Years' War, is often relegated to a smaller place in U.S. history.
But an upcoming four-part dramatic documentary, Episodes 1 and 3 of which were written, produced and directed by Arlington resident and filmmaker Eric Stange, intends to change perceptions of the 1754 to 1763 struggle.
Titled "The War That Made America," the documentary premiering on PBS Jan. 18 and 25 explores how the effects of the 18th century war charted the course for the nation, starting with the eviction of the French from North America.
Stange said he likes to refer to it as, "Why we don't speak French," but acknowledges the implications of the war went far beyond setting the country's future language.
"If things had gone differently - if the French had won - this would have been a very different continent," he said.
According to the filmmaker, the French and Indian War, for which the British also played a major role, set the stage for many tensions between the colonial settlers and Britain - and that strain ultimately resulted in the run up to the Revolutionary War.
"I think the surprising thing is the story of America does not begin with the Revolution," he said. "The Revolution was in many ways the end of this period, not the beginning. This is the war that laid the groundwork for the American Revolution. This is the war that got the wheels rolling."
Stange said "it is also a very sad story," in that the struggle marked the end of a period by which the Native American population had influence and was a force to be reckoned with on the newly settled continent.
"Our goal is for 'The War That Made America' to significantly reframe how early American history is understood," said Deborah Acklin, executive vice president and general manager at WQED Multimedia.
To bring the production to television, the Pittsburgh public broadcaster has paired with French and Indian War 250, a public-private partnership heading the national commemoration of the war's 250th anniversary. Boston filmmaker Ben Loeterman also contributed in writing, directing and producing two episodes of the documentary.
Stange said he was recruited for the project in fall 2002, partly because of his work on "Murder At Harvard," which aired in 2003 on PBS's American Experience, using documentary and drama to explore an 1849 Boston murder.
The Arlington filmmaker is one of four members of Spy Pond Productions, which is a documentary film, television and multimedia production company that has won prestigious awards for its work, including "Murder At Harvard."
Stange said like the previous film, the current project is unique in the way it combines drama, through spoken dialogue and actors, to a documentary-style format. He added "The War That Made America" presented a more formidable task, because it required a look further back in history to an event that has in many ways not been chronicled.
"The real challenge here was to bring alive this pre-photographic period and tell the story of a war that most Americans don't know anything about," he said.
The filmmakers met with historians and dug through a mass of journals, documents and historical accounts from the period to bring accuracy and color to the film. Scenes were also shot on location in southwestern Pennsylvania, where key portions of the battle actually occurred, and costumes were designed with materials of the time.
Additionally, reenactors of the Civil and Revolutionary wars, who were brought in for battle scenes, were asked to go through a week-long boot camp to learn the 18th century battle style.
Adding to what Stange called one of his "most ambitious" projects was the incorporation of technology to recreate battlefields and forts. The film was also shot in wide-screen High Definition, which the filmmaker said presents new possibilities for his trade.
The result is a rich tale of history that also delves deeply into character portrayal - one of which is George Washington, who Stange laughingly described as "a bumbling, over-ambitious 22-year-old" militiaman at the time, who unwittingly started the war with an ambush on an encampment of French soldiers.
"People are always interested in other human beings, and if you can make that character come alive, then you can tell the story," he said.
"The War That Made America" premiers Wednesdays, Jan. 18 (Parts 1 and 2) and 25 (Parts 3 and 4), from 9 to 11 p.m. on PBS. More information can be found at www.thewarthatmadeamerica.org. Information on Arlington-based Spy Pond Productions can be found at www.spypondproductions.com.
Book recommendation bump. Something tells me "rebuttal" might be closer to the mark.
Anyone seen the exhibit in Pittsburgh at the Heinz Regional Cultural Center on the French & Indian War?
My husband and I want to drive over and see this.
It will complement our visit to Ft. Necessity,the site of Braddock's mortal wound, etc. ..the summer of '04.
For some good reading on this era try Allen W Eckerts books. Exhaustive detail but hard to put down if you are interested in this period of American history.
The best part of your new ping lists, I generally don't have any "Thoroughly Modern Miscellany" topics, other than Nick (nickcarraway)'s Shakespeare topics and the like. Thanks, it helps me in ways I can't explain. :')
LOL! And don't forget the "Thoroughly Colonial Miscellany"...
I'd probably go with something like, "Thirteen".
Not a bad idea for a Fox TV show -- "Thirteen", about the PreRevolutionary period...
You should try and sell the idea to the producers of "24."
Why all the talk about a war Americans no nothing about? Is the F&I War no longer taught in High School history?
Just updating the GGG info, not sending a general distribution.
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