Ken Burns, on why he “wakes up the dead”

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What drives PBS documentarian Ken Burns to poke at history’s ghosts? In a revealing, low-key interview in the current New York magazine, he reveals that his mother died when he was 11 and his only memories of her are while she was gravely ill. It’s that pain that he says prompted him to making docs, a medium that “psychologically worked for me. Some of the things we do are to keep the wolf from the door.”

After a bit more prodding, the mag notes, “Burns goes full Freud.”

“I mean, I’ve talked to a psychiatrist about this. He said, ‘Well, look what you do for a living. You wake the dead. Who do you think you’re really trying to wake up?'”

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