War of 1812 Project has PBS film, book, more

Nearly two centuries after it was fought, the two-and-a-half year conflict that forged the destiny of a continent comes to public television in a comprehensive film history. The War of 1812 documentary premieres on PBS stations at 9 p.m. Monday.

This film encompasses American and Canadian history, and both sides of the border will be celebrating the 200th Anniversary of the War of 1812 — dozens of communities have already formed Bicentennial Commissions to plan their events.

The war involved every American state of the time, and battles were fought in Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, New York, Maryland, Louisiana, and Alabama — as well as the infamous British burning of Washington, D.C. — and naval struggles took place off of Virginia and Massachusetts.

Narrated by Joe Mantegna, The War of 1812 is the first major media project for the Bicentennial and makes extensive use of re-enactments, experts and animation.

The War of 1812 project, produced by WNED in Buffalo, includes the following components:

Film. Two-hour HD film for PBS, narrated by Joe Mantegna, exploring the American, Canadian, British and Native American role in the war. National television premiere on Monday at 9 p.m. on WCNY-DT and WCNYHD. Also showing on WCNY stations Oct. 11 at 1 a.m., 8 a.m., noon, 2 and 4 p.m. and Oct. 12 at midnight and 3 a.m. It’s available for purchase via ShopPBS.org.

Book. Companion book, The Warof 1812: A Guide to Battlefields and Historic Sites, by John Grant and Ray Jones. Illustrated with more than 120 color photographs and archival paintings, each chapter focuses on one of several distinct theaters of the war. Available to order now via ShopPBS.org.

Educational Resources. Bi-national education and outreach components, including Educator’s Guides with lesson plans, activities, and a host of educational-based resources designed for the United States and Canada, classroom posters, and several instructional events.

Website. Content-rich companion website, with battlefield map and guide, web-only video features, scholar essays, and links to key 1812 sites on both sides of the border. Available at pbs.org/1812.

From 1812 to 1815, Americans battled against the British, Canadian colonists, and Native warriors; the outcomes shaped the geography and the identity of North America. This two-hour HD documentary uses re-enactments, animation, and the commentary of experts to reveal little-known sides of an important war — one that some only recognize for the "Star-Spangled Banner."

"We have proudly created ‘The War of 1812’ for both nations," said Donald K. Boswell, president and CEO of WNED, the producing station of the program. Broadcasting from Buffalo, WNED has significant viewership in Southern Ontario. "This timely examination of a shared history allows us to celebrate our past together, and renew the bond of our present and future as national neighbors.

The War of 1812 is a celebrated event by Canadians, forgotten by many Americans and British, and dealt a resounding blow to most of the Native nations involved. The film is in many ways an examination of how the mythical versions of history are formed — how the glories of war become enshrined in memory, how failures are quickly forgotten, and how inconvenient truths are ignored forever, while we often change history to justify and celebrate our national cultures and heritage.