Ordinarily, I probably wouldn't write about a PBS series on Cinematical, but Ken Burns' The War deserves an exception. The lengthy documentary, which has seven episodes, first caught my attention at Telluride last year, where one of the episodes was shown as a sneak peek. I knew who Burns was, of course -- his previous documentary series -- The Civil War, Baseball, and Jazz -- are noted for their exceptional quality. But still, The War being added to the Telluride schedule seemed to catch folks by surprise.

And then, on the gondola and in line, I started hearing buzz about The War. When I asked people what they'd seen that they liked at the fest, The War was mentioned over and over (usually preceded by, "Well, it's long, but ..."). So when I heard that the DVD set of The War was coming out, I knew I wanted to write it up.

Even if you're not familiar with Ken Burns' work, or you think you're not into war movies, this documentary is so extraordinarily well done that you're bound to find value in it. It is long. Very long. As in, it takes about 14 1/2 hours to get through all seven episodes, and by the time you're done, you're likely to feel like you've been through a war yourself. Burns notes on the 36-minute "Making of" featurette that the production team filmed hundreds of hours of interviews, looked at hundreds of photos, and culled through thousands of hours of archival foootage in pulling together this remarkable project. It's hard to imagine a more comprehensive view of one of the most cataclysmic events ever to impact the world.