×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Not for Ourselves Alone: The Story of Elizabeth Cady Stanton & Susan B. Anthony

Onscreen commentators: Lorie Barnum, Kathleen Barry, Ellen Carol Dubois, Ruth Dyk, Ann Gordon, Elisabeth Griffith, Ethel Hall, Lynn Sherr, Sally Roesch Wagner , Judith Wellman.

Onscreen commentators: Lorie Barnum, Kathleen Barry, Ellen Carol Dubois, Ruth Dyk, Ann Gordon, Elisabeth Griffith, Ethel Hall, Lynn Sherr, Sally Roesch Wagner , Judith Wellman.

Narrator: Sally Kellerman

Soft-peddled in history books, virtually ignored during the latter half of the 20th century, the selfless revolution forged by feminist/suffrage pioneers Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony finally gets its due nearly a century after the women’s deaths in this typically extraordinary docu profile from genre master Ken Burns and partner Paul Barnes.

“Not For Ourselves Alone” carries all of the familiar Burns devices that made his “The Civil War,” “Baseball,” “The Brooklyn Bridge” and other docs such illuminating viewing. That plaintive piano music, the flawless use of stills and poignant voiceovers, the plentiful onscreen commentary — all are in evidence from the get-go. It is an evocative and spare style that never grows tiresome. And in the case of Stanton and Anthony, we have the bonus of illuminating a couple of historical figures of which remarkably little is widely known, rendering the formula all the more affecting.

Turns out that Stanton’s and Anthony’s story is a pretty darn fascinating one — and a clear case of opposites attracting, and uniting, for a common goal. As we learn in “Not For Ourselves Alone,” the two were born four years and 71 miles apart “into a world ruled entirely by men.” Stanton entered the world late in 1815, Anthony in February of 1820.

Yet to say these women were an unlikely team in the fight to forge women’s rights is to greatly understate the point. Stanton was born into wealth and privilege, a flamboyant hedonist, short and plump, with a husband and a brood of seven children. Anthony was a plain-spoken Quaker, singleminded, never-married, cranky and independent. Yet they managed to work together for better than a half century and, in the process, change America forever.

Stanton, whose skills were in philosophy and rhetoric, and Anthony, who rarely forgot a fact, dovetailed their strengths to create the voice of the Women’s Movement in a time akin to the Dark Ages. As the docu shows, women of the 1800s America were prohibited from owning and trading property, could not serve on a jury, were considered incompetent to testify in trials and had no rights even in marriage. They were considered to be largely the property of their husbands. It would be 1920 before women won the right to vote.

Things were so bad that Stanton and Anthony would not live long enough to see the fruits of their labor borne out, yet Burns makes clear that the women suspected all along it would turn out that way.

The two-night “Not For Ourselves Alone” — passionately narrated by the distinctive Sally Kellerman — seamlessly interweaves heartfelt voiceovers from the likes of Amy Madigan, Julie Harris, Adam Arkin and Charles Durning with commentary from historians like Elisabeth Griffith and ABC correspondent Lynn Sherr.

Not for Ourselves Alone: The Story of Elizabeth Cady Stanton & Susan B. Anthony

(DOCU; PBS, SUN.-MON. NOV. 7-8, 8 P.M. ET/PT)

Production: Filmed in Walpole, N.H.; Washington, D.C.; and elsewhere by Florentine Films and WETA-Washington D.C. Producers, Paul Barnes, Ken Burns; associate producer, Susanna Steisel; coordinating producer, Pam Tubridy Baucom; director, Burns; writer, Geoffrey C. Ward; cinematography, Buddy Squires, Allen Moore, Burns.

Crew: Editor, Sarah H. Hill. 4 HOURS Voices: Ronnie Gilbert, Julie Harris, Amy Madigan, Adam Arkin, Tim Clark, Kevin Conway, Ann Dowd, Charles Durning, Carolyn McCormick.

More Film

  • (L to R) Marco Graf as

    2018 Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards Winners

    Members of the Los Angeles Film Critics Assn. are meeting today to vote on the year’s best cinema accomplishments. Recent winners of the group’s top prize include “Call Me by Your Name,” “Moonlight,” “Spotlight,” “Boyhood,” “Her”/”Gravity” and “Amour.” List of winners below. Check back throughout the morning for updates. Best Film: Best Director: More Reviews Film [...]

  • Ralph Breaks the Internet

    Box Office: 'Ralph Breaks the Internet' Narrowly Defeats 'Grinch' in Sleepy Pre-Holiday Weekend

    Disney’s “Ralph Breaks the Internet” topped a quiet weekend at the domestic box office, marking the third straight win for the animated sequel. It earned $16.2 million in its third week of release, generating $140 million since it opened over Thanksgiving. Another cartooned adventure almost gave “Ralph” a run for its money. Illumination and Universal’s [...]

  • John KrasinskiVariety Actors on Actors, Day

    John Krasinski on 'A Quiet Place': Casting A Deaf Actress Was 'Non-Negotiable'

    John Krasinski’s debut feature “A Quiet Place” tells the story of a family with a deaf child, and the “Jack Ryan” star wanted to make sure he included a deaf actor in the film. “It was a non-negotiable thing for me,” Krasinski told Rosamund Pike of the casting during their conversation for Variety‘s “Actors on [...]

  • Rosamund Pike John Krasinski

    John Krasinski and Rosamond Pike on Vulnerability and Decompressing After Tense Scenes

    John Krasinski and Rosamund Pike sat down for a conversation for Variety’s Actors on Actors. For more, click here.  In “Gone Girl,” Rosamund Pike proved she could put herself through anything. The British actress, a well-loved supporting player in “Pride & Prejudice” and “An Education,” took the lead and scored her first Oscar nomination. Four years later, [...]

  • Aquaman

    'Aquaman' Rules Overseas Box Office With $94 Million in China

    “Aquaman” launched with a massive $93.6 million in China, marking the best start for a Warner Bros. title in that territory. The superhero adventure — directed by James Wan and starring Jason Momoa as the king of the seven seas — isn’t opening in North America for another two weeks, but the studio wanted to [...]

  • (L to R) MAHERSHALA ALI and

    Scores from 'Green Book,' 'Solo,' Others Disqualified from Oscar Race (EXCLUSIVE)

    First-round voting is underway for Oscar’s Original Song and Original Score categories, but Academy music-branch voters are discovering that four talked-about scores are missing from the eligibility list. Music for “Solo: A Star Wars Story,” “Green Book,” “Mandy” and “The Other Side of the Wind” has been disqualified for various reasons, Variety has learned. More [...]

  • Zack Mulligan and Keire Johnson appear

    'Minding the Gap' Wins Top Award From International Documentary Association

    Bing Liu’s skateboarding movie “Minding The Gap” has won the International Documentary Association’s award for top feature of 2018. Floyd Russ’s “Zion” was awarded best short. Netflix’s “Wild Wild Country” won for best limited series and HBO’s “John McCain: For Whom the Bell Tolls” took the ABC News VideoSource Award. PBS’ “POV” won for best curated [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content