IMDb > "American Experience" War Letters (2001)

"American Experience" War Letters (2001)

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Robert Kenner (writer)
Paul Taylor (writer)
View company contact information for War Letters on IMDbPro.
Original Air Date:
11 November 2001 (Season 14, Episode 3)
Extraordinary correspondence from American wars.
A documentary based on the book "War Letters; Extraordinary Correspondence From American Wars" by Andrew Carroll. | Add synopsis »
Plot Keywords:
User Reviews:
Hard to watch. See more (1 total) »


 (Episode Cast)

Joan Allen ... Herself - Reader (voice)

Jordan Bridges ... Himself - Reader (voice)

Christopher Gehrman ... Himself - Reader (voice)

Michael Hagiwara ... Himself - Reader (voice)

David Hyde Pierce ... Himself - Reader (voice)

Gerald McRaney ... Himself - Reader (voice)

Esai Morales ... Himself - Reader (voice)

Edward Norton ... Himself - Reader (voice)

Bill Paxton ... Himself - Reader (voice)

Giovanni Ribisi ... Himself - Reader (voice)

Kyra Sedgwick ... Herself - Reader (voice)

Kevin Spacey ... Himself - Reader (voice)

Eric Stoltz ... Himself - Reader (voice)

Lawrence Turner ... Himself - Reader (voice)

Courtney B. Vance ... Himself - Reader (voice)

Episode Crew
Directed by
Robert Kenner 
Writing credits
(in alphabetical order)
Andrew Carroll  book "War Letters: Extraordinary Correspondence from American Wars"
Robert Kenner  writer
Paul Taylor  writer

Produced by
Robert Kenner .... producer
Melissa Robledo .... co-producer (as Melissa Adelson)
Original Music by
Mark Adler 
Cinematography by
Neil Reichline 
Film Editing by
Leonard Feinstein 
Art Direction by
Zachary Mathews  (as Zack Mathews)
Sound Department
Chris Boyett .... sound editor
Daniel Colman .... sound effects editor
Jack Levy .... sound designer
Doug Madick .... foley artist
Frank Nolan .... sound recordist
Carlos Solis .... sound re-recording mixer
Camera and Electrical Department
Paul Goldsmith .... additional photographer
Roger Grange .... additional photographer
Kit Kalionzes .... additional photographer
Buddy Squires .... additional photographer
Editorial Department
Lauren Heller .... assistant editor
Brian Hutchings .... colorist
Asher Stern .... assistant editor
Other crew
Rob Bergman .... production assistant
Cayce Callaway .... researcher
Andrew Carroll .... consultant
David Combs .... production assistant
Bernard Edelman .... consultant (as Bernie Edelman)
Marina Goldman .... production assistant
Adam Lid .... location scout
Adam Lid .... technical consultant
Polly Pettit .... photo assistant
Aileen Silverstone .... researcher

Series Crew
These people are regular crew members. Were they in this episode?
Writing credits
(in alphabetical order)
Stephen Fitzmeyer  developer
Henry Hampton  creator

Production CompaniesDistributors

Additional Details

USA:60 min
Aspect Ratio:
1.33 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:


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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful.
Hard to watch., 29 March 2012
Author: planktonrules from Bradenton, Florida

In many ways, this film reminds me of the HBO documentary "Unchained Memories: Readings from the Slave Narratives"--as the past is brought to life by having modern actors read the accounts of many folks long dead. However, "Unchained Memories" was a bit more effective because the narratives were longer and the actors were sometimes a bit more convincing in their readings of the lives of ex-slaves. This isn't to say that the letter read in "War Letters" was done badly--just not quite as good. Part of it was because the portions of the letters they read were often very short--and so when pieced together, it seemed a bit rushed. It also didn't help that the letters bounced about from war to war. One moment, you'll hear a letter from WWII, and then one from the Civil War and then one from WWI. I think doing them in sequence or looking for a theme to link the letters would have helped. HOWEVER, despite these complaints, it's still an exceptionally compelling film. You can't help but be affected by the letters--particularly since many were written by guys who did not survive the war.

A few of the noteworthy letters in the film:

It was surprising how much slipped past censors, such as the guy talking about how many ships were left that were battle-worthy following the attack on Pearl Harbor!

While most of the letters were very sad, a few were funny--such as the one written by the nurse about the guy who wanted her to kiss him goodnight.

The letter the black soldier sent to the magazine was surprising, as you would have thought during WWII they wouldn't have published such a letter. It was brilliantly written and quite sad.

I noticed that not all US wars are represented. The War of 1812, Mexican War and Spanish-American War have no entries. Also, there is only one from the Revolution. Most are from Vietnam and WWII. Also, perhaps the best and saddest letter ever (the famed Sullivan Ballou letter) was not used in this film--probably because it was already used by Ken Burns in his Civil War mega-documentary.

By the way, be careful who you see this film with. There is some very, very disturbing film and letters. I am NOT saying to skip it--just don't see it with kids in the room. After all, seeing the horror serves to remind us that war is hellish and to be avoided if at all possible.

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