The Roosevelts: An Intimate Portrait is an extraordinary documentary about an extraordinary family. Filmmaker Ken Burns offers up the human side of these American icons, demonstrating how private weaknesses propelled Theodore, Franklin and Eleanor to true public greatness. He connects the two dynasties (TR was Eleanor’s uncle) and weaves fascinating archival footage, anecdotal storytelling, and insights from present day historians (Doris Kearns Goodwin, David McCullough, George Will and more) to create for the viewer a truly intimate lens on one hundred years of history. The series is surprisingly watchable; it’s remarkable to gain such personal insights into three historical figures we thought we knew well.
Who knew Teddy was a weak, asthmatic child? Or that Eleanor was an orphan, and Franklin heartbroken by not getting into a club at Harvard? The bravery and strong morality that we think of as part of the Roosevelt persona was forged from heartbreak and built upon family values that served them during difficult days.
Watch the seven 2 hour episodes live this week on PBS, or download it for free through September 28.