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Into the West

4.2 out of 5 stars 297 customer reviews

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(Oct 04, 2005)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Experience one of the most definitive and triumphant chapters in American history by journeying Into the West with this powerful 4-disc DVD set. Presented by TNT in association with DreamWorks Television and executive produced by Steven Spielberg, this 12-TV-hour event contains all 6 timeless episodes of the action-packed mini-series and boasts an entire disc of exclusive bonus features. Chronicling the struggles, heartache and conquests of two inspiring families, Into the West captures the hopes and perseverance of both the explorers who risked everything to fulfill their dreams and the land's indigenous people forced to watch their way of life disappear. Featuring an ensemble cast of Hollywood's brightest stars, including Beau Bridges, Graham Greene, Matthew Modine and Keri Russell, Into the West is an American Dream saga that Entertainment Weekly calls "epic in scope and cast."


Spanning 65 years and several generations, Into the West succeeds as an ambitious compendium of authentic American history. Originally broadcast in the summer of 2005 as a six-part miniseries on TNT, it's the kind of well-intentioned epic that can't possibly satisfy everyone, and some critics complained that it covers too much territory, with characters functioning more as archetypes than full-blooded human beings. Criticisms aside, Into the West admirably achieves the goal of executive producer Steven Spielberg, who envisioned this expansive project as an accurate and corrective history lesson with long-term educational value. Placing important emphasis on the Native American perspective, it follows the Lakota Indians as they are gradually overwhelmed by the white man's irrevocable westward expansion. As conceived by playwright/screenwriter William Mastrosimone, the drama uses two primary symbols--the wagon wheel and the Lakota medicine wheel--to join the Lakota story with that of the Wheelers, a Virginia family of wheelwrights who witness many of the 19th century's pivotal historical milestones. From the pioneering explorations of mountain men in 1825 to the tragic massacre of downtrodden Lakota at Wounded Knee in 1891, these parallel storylines encompass migrating wagon trains, the California Gold Rush, construction of the transcontinental railroad, the violence of Quantrill's Raiders, and much, much more.

Through it all, Into the West preserves Lakota customs and language (accompanied by English subtitles) with unprecedented authenticity. In showing how Native cultures were systematically oppressed by the white man's westward capitalism, this tragic tale is inevitably heartbreaking, although it ends on a hopeful note of cultural preservation. Some violent content from the original TNT broadcast has been edited for this DVD release to better accommodate classroom viewing, but Into the West still qualifies as essential viewing for anyone seeking an inclusive dramatization of truthful American history, as opposed to the wildly inaccurate and woefully biased accounts that dominated for decades. With different directors for all six parts, the miniseries is remarkably consistent in tone and vision, its outstanding production values matched by the excellence of a prestigious and well-chosen cast including Irene Bedard (who gives the standout performance in a half-white/half-Lakota role spanning decades), Keri Russell, Skeet Ulrich, Balthazar Getty, Matthew Modine, Graham Greene, Wes Studi, Beau Bridges, Sean Astin, Lance Henriksen, Rachael Leigh Cook, Keith Carradine, and others too numerous to mention. They all contribute to a heartfelt tapestry of bicultural history, both tragic and inspiring, and impressive enough to make its flaws easily forgiven.

DVD features
A standard making-of documentary covers all aspects of the production of Into the West, with a brief introductory comment by Steven Spielberg. The "Communication Gap" featurette explores the challenge of translating dialogue into authentically spoken Lakota language. Also included is a survey (with interview clips) of the large cast; the original TNT promo trailer; and a music video of the miniseries-inspired song "World on Fire," combining Into the West footage with a performance by Sarah McLachlan and Robbie Robertson. --Jeff Shannon

Special Features

  • The Making of "Into the West"
  • The Communication Gap
  • The Cast of "Into the West"
  • "World on Fire" Music Video
  • Promotional Material
  • Photo Gallery

Product Details

  • Actors: Joseph M. Marshall, Irene Bedard, Gil Birmingham, John Terry, Ricardo Andres
  • Format: Full Screen, Box set, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.1), English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 4
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Dreamworks Video
  • DVD Release Date: October 4, 2005
  • Run Time: 552 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (297 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000AQ6A9E
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #8,930 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Into the West" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
I am reposting a review, as my previous review was deleted - AMAZON must use the same censors as TNT. This is NOT the same version seen on TV -- much has been removed to facilitate "classroom viewing." The TYPICAL practice is to included ADDITIONAL footage in a DVD release because the DVD doesn't have to cater to TV advertising time and audiences with short attention spans. The DVD customer wants a good film - didn't TNT ever hear of "Extended Versions?" Not only does this DVD NOT contain additional footage - footage aired in the original TNT TV broadcast has been censored. Its even more choppy than the TV version! Gone is Sitting Bull's sundance prior to the Little Bighorn - with associated deep native perspectives. The Wounded Knee footage is also heavily edited from the much more powerful version shown on TNT. Sanitized. The stark slaughter of the fleeing innocents - and hodgekiss guns - are gone. Instead we are left with the endless and boring side stories of Wheeler peripherals. The "extra footage" CD is also a waste -- a lot of pontificating from actors, and the music video. Would have much prefered an extended version - geared to an adult audience interested in solid history - not this mishmash of mini vignettes. Additional scenes to better tie the story together - and non-santitized TRUTH. History is too important. This is a heavily edited, sanitized, and choppy film - with a cheesy CD extra with a silly video. Would have prefered the real soundtrack and something with Joseph Marshall narrating. His narration in the film is one of the few good things, along with location shooting.
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Format: DVD
I was ready to purchase this set and I even picked it up at the store and I was going to buy it but then I noticed that it said it was edited for "classroom viewing". The demographic for this show was not even close to child's age. I also can't think of a single classroom that would air a twelve hour show. It would take too long. I will purchase this DVD when it is sold in its original format and I encourage all of you to do the same.
14 Comments 286 of 299 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: DVD
If I could rate it as '0' I would. It isnt even listed as being edited or cut at all. Honestly, cutting scenes out of a movie that has already been seen on network television just isnt right. Most of the audience out there wants to see all of Into the West, not a watered down version. High school history classes included, besides with what these kids see on TV and movies as it is why even bother sensitizing history. Why dont we cut out half of Saving Private Ryan or other favorite but bloody educational movies.

So what I want to know is: when will Ted Turner come out and give us the real thing? Maybe even with extended footage eh? Cause, honestly, pulling tricks like this on his customers has to have them rattling the ratings chains... I'd say he owes us!!
3 Comments 214 of 229 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I saw the film when it came out on TNT. My home is decorated in an Indian style as a tribute to what was done to a gallant and trusting people. When the film was released on DVD I immediately bought 2 of them, one for me and the other for my daugher who lives in Los Angeles. The first chance I got to watch it was this weekend and I thought there was a mistake made. I distinctly remember the ghost dances and how tears rolled down my cheeks at the climax of Wounded Knee. Meanwhile these are not on the DVD set. Is TNT nuts? I want my money back because this is ridiculous. There should at least have been a warning that there was an edited version for sale and not try to pull something on people who loved the movie and care about a people that were the victims of clear attempt at genocide.
15 Comments 127 of 135 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: DVD
I really loved this DVD however there were missing sections and skips in the plot which apparently were not missing in the original TV showing. Only when I had watched the entire series and then saw the special features did I realize that it had been majorly edited, as entire stories like the gold rush, Railroad building and several other important Indian stories, and connecting stories where gone.
Another anoying aspect is that in the special features section several key supporting actors talk about their scenes and clips are shown and these characters are not even on the DVD edition.
For example there is one main character who appears to disappear from
the story but actually returns later only much older. I couldn't tell if it was one of two possible choices as that part of the story ( two separate stories for the two different characters) had been edited out - this left me somewhat confused until I saw the special features section and a bit of the missing story there explained it.
I went over the DVD several times to see if somehow I had missed a story on the discs by clicking on the wrong button or something but they were just not there - that's why I am so bummed!!! I borrowed this from a friend and am glad I didn't spent any $ on it.
Also it is advertised as a 12 hour mini series but after the editing is only 6 hours or less = a ripoff!
What a crime to have altered for the worse such an excellent work of art not to mention the insult to all the actors who were edited out of the DVD version.
That's my only beef otherwise I would have given it 4-5 stars.
If you don't care about these inadaquencies then get it as it's very well done. OTHERWISE I RECOMMEND THAT YOU WAIT UNTIL THIS HAS ALL BEEN CORRECTED AND A NEW DVD IS ISSUED BEFORE YOU SPEND YOUR $
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Topic From this Discussion
Looking for an uncut version of Into the West
The series is currently being aired on Australian Foxtel cable/satellite TV. I am recording the episodes onto DVD, but by reading some of the reviews on this site, it may be the edited version as on the DVD released. There are similarities to the comments so far. Only 3 episodes have gone to... Read More
Sep 17, 2006 by Alexander Poor |  See all 38 posts
looking for an uncut version of INTO THE WEST
Hi Carolyn, I agree with you.. I know it's been a while since you posted this but I was wanting an original version myself.. Out here in Australia we never had the chance to see this great mini series..anyway if you know any more about obtaining an original version..please let me know.. and also... Read More
Nov 30, 2008 by Jeanette Jackson |  See all 3 posts
Looking for an uncut version of Into the West
Isn't this a shame. I've wanted this series for such a long time. What a shame we can't get the complete version. I just returned the copy I bought from amazon. I feel so cheated. Please, let me know if anyone finds a way for us to get the right set.
Jul 12, 2008 by B. Wynn |  See all 3 posts
Amazons review is wrong! TNT and the DVD are the same!!!
Thank you so much for this clarification. I wasn't going to buy this DVD set. But reading your review has reassured me and changed my mind.
Thanks so much!!!
May 2, 2012 by Fashionista |  See all 13 posts
Into The West - Complete Version
Bob, I could have saved you from giving away $10 to an illegal bootlegger if you had only read this discussion (http://www.amazon.com/Amazons-review-wrong-are-same/forum/Fx1MKIL4U1236FL/TxZLA1WNGK0BDN/1/ref=cm_cd_et_md_pl?_encoding=UTF8&asin=B000AQ6A9E&cdMsgID=Mx325HWTLOQ... Read More
Jul 28, 2014 by RedLance |  See all 2 posts
into the west mini-series /edited or NOT? Be the first to reply
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