March 24, 2022
A new two-part documentary directed by Ken Burns, Benjamin Franklin, will launch on the PBS Documentaries Prime Video Channel April 4.
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The program explores the life and work of one of the most consequential figures in American history — a prolific writer and publisher, a groundbreaking scientist and inventor, a world-renowned diplomat and a signer of both the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution. This dramatic re-creation of Franklin’s mind and world is scripted exclusively with Franklin’s own words, preserved from letters and diaries, bringing to life intimate conversations with the viewer.
In addition to Emmy-Award winning Mandy Patinkin providing the voice of Franklin, Benjamin Franklin includes interviews with some of the country’s leading scholars of early American history, including Franklin biographer Walter Isaacson, who also served as a senior advisor to the project.
Franklin, whose life has been celebrated as a quintessential American story, was anything but typical. His 84 years spanned nearly the entirety of the 18th century — an epoch of revolutionary change in science, technology, literature, politics and government — change that Franklin himself helped to advance. He launched the first public library in America, organized a volunteer fire company, and founded an academy that eventually became the University of Pennsylvania. His annual publication, “Poor Richard’s Almanack,” set a model for future humorists such as Mark Twain and contained maxims that are still part of our shared lexicon. There were also his famous experiments with electricity, which led to one of his most important inventions — the lightning rod.