Featuring Kronos Quartet
Death and the Civil War explores an essential but largely overlooked aspect of the most pivotal event in American history: the transformation of the nation by the death of an estimated 750,000 men – nearly two and a half percent of the population — in four dark and searing years from 1861 to 1865.
The work of contending with death on this scale would propel extraordinary changes in the inner and outer life of all Americans — posing challenges for which there were no ready answers when the war began — challenges that called forth remarkable and eventually heroic efforts on the part of individuals, groups and the government — as Americans worked to improvise new solutions, new institutions, new ways of coping with death on an unimaginable scale.
Before the Civil War, there were no national cemeteries in America. No provisions for identifying the dead, or for notifying next of kin, or for providing aid to the suffering families of dead veterans. No federal relief organizations, no effective ambulance corps, no adequate federal hospitals, no federal provisions for burying the dead. No Arlington Cemetery. No Memorial Day.
Brian Keane’s score in both composition and production are as dramatic as the film itself. With grand but delicate orchestral gestures, Keane drives the film with deep reverence and respect for this solemn portion of our American history.