The American Experience films that air on PBS are very similar to a Ken Burns style documentary. Narrators discussing the subject matter, photo zooms (Ken Burns Effect), archival footage, and lots of historical information.
The Henry Ford Episode was no different. Clocking in at just under two hours, the film explores the entire life of Mr. Ford. When I decided to sit down and invest the time, I realized I never really knew much about the guy. My knowledge was limited to the Model T and inventing the assembly line. While watching, I learned that Ford was a pretty simple guy who was creative and a laborer at heart. He enjoyed being on the assembly line figuring things out more than hanging out with Detroit aristocrats. Like most innovators, he didn't sound like a boss I would enjoy having. He was a well known union hater and bucked the trend automakers were following by allowing workers to unionize. They say he was kind of like The Wizard of Oz later in his life, controlling all the wires from behind the scenes. Ford also longed for the past and a simple life. He basically built what we know as The Henry Ford Museum so he could recapture his past. Buildings were bought, torn down, and rebuilt on the site so Ford could experience his earlier years. One of these include the Wright Brothers bike shop from Ohio.
The Ford River Rouge Complex was discussed in detail and you learn that Henry Ford was somewhat of a control freak. What we also see though, is one of the first massive automotive manufacturing "cities" in the early twentieth century. Employing 75,000 workers and everything from a fire department to hundreds of miles of train track, the River Rouge Complex was a massive undertaking. Doing some quick searching, they still use it today to build F150 Trucks.
This film was very interesting and gives you a window into one of the first huge automotive manufacturers in America. Henry Ford did what he wanted and was a multibillionaire in a time when that really didn't exist. To watch the history for yourself, you can either find the show rerunning on PBS or on Netflix, as it just arrived on the Instant service.