Picks and Pans Review: Not for Ourselves Alone
See those old photographs? Hear that piano softly playing traditional tunes and those biographers speaking reverently of their subjects? Time for another documentary from Ken Burns (The Civil War, Lewis & Clark) on a part of American history you really should know more about.
It's to be expected that some will take a dutiful approach to Not for Ourselves Alone: The Story of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, billed as a "GM Mark of Excellence Presentation" in solemn recognition of corporate underwriter General Motors. A three-hour work (spread over four hours of air time) on the leaders of the women's suffrage movement is not exactly escapist fare. But Burns and his film-making team earn high marks for illuminating the 50-year friendship between Stanton, the writer and theoretician, and Anthony, the campaigner and coalition builder. Julie Harris (Anthony) and Ronnie Gilbert (Stanton) read the principals' words with emotion and understanding. When the story reaches 1920 and women finally gain the right to vote, you'll feel genuine regret that the heroines didn't live to see the culmination of their crusade.
Bottom Line: Elect to watch