Frodo begins all his commentaries with a little art work. In his time the Impressionists, the Cubists, and Modern Art are confined to buildings, while music it is that touches the mortal soul. Frodo was reminded last night that much of this started before his chemical soup was stirred. The first three hours of the new Ken Burns epic, "The War," spanning the run up to War through Stalingrad and Bouganville, captured the Hobbit noiselessly before the black-and-white.
As "The Ballou Letter" set the tone for Frodo's first introduction to the artist Ken Burns, the little towns in California, Minnesota, Connecticut and Alabama brought the deaths of somewhere between "50 and 60 million people" into relative comprehension. The fact that fewer than half-a-million of those deaths were American, and that this nation suffered relatively less than did any of the other combatants, gave great pause to one who would contemplate this human disaster. Frodo was taken by the dramatic photographs, the movies not seen before, and the lucidity of those who were able to capture what "it" was like.
Above all else, Frodo listened to the music. Although thematic throughout, there were two songs that Burns used to capture the mood of the time. Frodo must admit that he did not recognize one of the songs, but that did not lessen his enjoyment. The other, well, what can anyone, least of all Frodo, say about "White Christmas?" Burns interspersed the genius of Irving Berlin and the gifts of Bing Crosby with still photographs of bearded boys, who would not know Christmas at home for many, many days, if at all, especially not in 1942.
Frodo's father would miss the Christmases of 1943, 1944, and 1945. He must have been very cold and lonely. 78 RPM records remained in closets and drawers throughout Frodo's Hobbithood, and only now does Frodo understand why.