The Civil War is a 1990 American television documentary miniseries created by Ken Burns about the American Civil War. It was the first broadcast to air on PBS for five consecutive nights, from September 23 to 27, 1990.
More than 39 million viewers tuned in to at least one episode, and viewership averaged more than 14 million viewers each evening, making it the most-watched program ever to air on PBS. It was awarded more than 40 major television and film honors. A companion book to the documentary was released shortly after the series aired.
Its filmography was groundbreaking for the time, and spawned film techniques such as the Ken Burns effect. Its theme song, “Ashokan Farewell” is widely acclaimed. The series was extremely influential, and serves as the main source of knowledge about the Civil War to many Americans. However, it is criticized for its historiography, especially its lack of coverage of slavery as a cause of the war.
The series was rebroadcast in June 1994 as a lead-up to Baseball, then remastered for its 12th anniversary in 2002, although it remained in standard definition resolution. To commemorate the film’s 25th anniversary and the 150th anniversary of Lincoln’s assassination, the film underwent a complete digital restoration to high-definition format in 2015.