“History made them famous.
Ken Burns makes them real.”
Almost every single day, essays, plays, songs, chatter on forums, cartoons, YouTube submissions, artwork, etc. continue to portray Lizzie Borden as she has been for over a century. But now exists true facts that changes the entire Lizzie landscape. It’s out there now. It’s accessible and it screams to be heard on a massive scale, It just needs to be read. But so many people don’t really read. They like short sound bites or FILM. Lizzie deserves to be heard and seen in a new light, and a bloody good documentary would be just the thing to do it.
Last October, when I was in Kona, Hawaii and reading Parallel Lives – A Social History of Lizzie Borden and Her Fall River, I was contacted by Susanna Steisel, who works for Ken Burns at Florentine Films, Mr. Burns’ production company. She explained Mr. Burns was working “on a triple biography documentary of Theodore, Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt.” She further explained she had been reading my blog posts on Louis McHenry Howe (secretary and special advisor to FDR) and wanted some additional information. After some exchanges, I used the opportunity to explain the link between Louis Howe and Lizzie Borden. Naturally, I told her about the Fall River Historical Society’s magnificent book. I went so far as to say he should seriously consider a documentary on Lizzie Borden based on the information in Parallel Lives, specifically as to it’s Big Reveal of a “different Lizzie” that was heretofore never known.
Now, for those who don’t know, Ken Burns (check him out on Facebook) is an award-winning preeminent documentarian; prolific and without peer, his body of work can be seen from the list of his films as shown HERE.
It would be spectacular to have a Ken Burns multi-part documentary that would reveal the character and sensitivities of Lizzie Borden as revealed in Parallel Lives. All of Burns documentaries are of excellent quality and content, and are viewed by millions all over the world. It would be groundbreaking for Ken Burns himself because he would be the very first to put on film new information about this iconic figure in America’s most compelling and mystifying unsolved murder case. Using the information in Parallel Lives, such a documentary would deconstruct long held urban legends of the case. It would sear into the minds of the viewing audience a Lizzie Borden far different from the one dimensional persona of which she has long been illustrated and portrayed – namely, a maniacal sociopath wielding a bloody axe just used for “forty whacks.” Undoubtedly, Mr. Burns would be credited as “the man whose film irrevocably altered the beliefs and perceptions of Lizzie Borden the world over. The man whose revelations put to film gave the world a three dimensional, heart and soul Lizzie Borden.”
Can you envision a multi-part sepia tone documentary that uses Fall River society as the Civil War backdrop with Lizzie Borden as the protagonist Scarlett? I’m talkin’ epic here. Well, I can envision it. I can - if Ken Burns produces it.
So if you are on Facebook, post a comment encouraging – encouraging, hell – BEGGING Ken Burns to produce a documentary on Lizzie Borden based on the content of Parallel Lives. The FRHS tells me they sent him a copy of the book – let’s hope he reads it. :) Meanwhile, post on Facebook or write his production company.