The Shakers

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The Shakers. Ken Burns, dir. 1985. DVD.

DVD Cover

Review: They called themselves the United Society of Believers in Christ's Second Appearing, but because of their ecstatic dancing, the world called them Shakers. Though they were celibate, they are the most enduring religious experiment in American history. They believed in pacifism and feminism, freedom from prejudice, natural health and hygiene, and for more than 200 years insisted that their followers should strive for simplicity and perfection in everything that they did. The Shakers put their "hands to work and their hearts to God," creating an exquisite legacy of fine furniture, glorious architecture, and beautiful music which will remain and inspire long after the last Shaker is gone. Through diaries, archival photographs, music, and stunning cinematography, Ken Burns creates a moving portrait of this particularly American movement, and in the process, offers us a new and unusually moving way to understand the Shakers.

Additional information, background material, director's commentary and activities related to Ken Burn's The Shakers can be found at pbs.org.

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