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The Way West [VHS] (1995)

Ric Burns  |  NR |  VHS Tape
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Ric Burns
  • Format: Box set, Black & White, Color, HiFi Sound, NTSC
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Number of tapes: 4
  • Studio: Shanachie
  • VHS Release Date: May 23, 1995
  • Run Time: 360 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 6303434355
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #717,166 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Editorial Reviews

4 VHS TAPE

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "The Way West" vs. "The West" September 9, 2009
Format:DVD
Whenever I try to compare "The Way West" with the Ken Burns series "The West", I'm always of two minds. On the one hand, I consider TWW to be superior in terms of entertainment; the soundtrack remains one of my favorite CDs, and stands well on its own separate from the film. I also find myself somewhat more engrossed in "The Way West" than "The West". However, from a historical perspective, I consider "The West" to be the better production. TW gives a broader and more balanced historical view, with more variety of speakers, than TWW. In its attempt to portray the genocide of the western Indian tribes, "The Way West" glosses over some important points: for example, that the Lakota were recent inhabitants of the Black Hills, having wrested it from other tribes by warfare during the 1700s...while one would get the impression from the Lakota representatives in TWW that the land was always theirs, and that they were a peaceable tribe until the Whites came. It is omissions like this which make one wonder what else wasn't being covered. On the other hand, TWW does go into more detail of the fight for the Black Hills than "The West" could, because of time constraints. Both are strong in their own ways, and well worth owning.

(Review based on the VHS release, will revise if needed when TWW DVD becomes available.)
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27 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Most Moving Documentary I've Ever Seen June 12, 2007
Format:DVD
As movies and TV (except HBO) become so stupid and banal as to be unwatchable, I find myself watching more and more documentaries, and this is the best I've ever seen.

Unlike Ric Burns "The West" (which covers everything from the Conquistidors in Mexico to the Indians of the Northwest), this focuses almost entirely on the unending battle for the great plains between native americans and the whites. The photography, the narration, the actors readings, and especially the music are first rate, all lending to a sense of inevitable tragedy.

To me this seemed very balanced in presenting both sides of the story. It documents the breaking of treaties and the atrocities committed by Indians every bit as much as those committed by whites. There are several very graphic photos of white men mutilated by Indians. (This is NOT for children.)

I'm at a loss to understand the previous reviews saying this portrays "all white Christian men" as evil and all Indians as victims. Over an hour is dedicated to just the Battle of the Little Big Horn. How does that portray Indians as helpless victims?

The fact that these reviewers feel this is an attack on all white Christian men tells us much more about those reviewers than it does about this incredibly moving documentary.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Of two minds... February 18, 2001
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
Whenever I try to compare "The Way West" with the Ken Burns series "The West", I'm always of two minds. On the one hand, I consider TWW to be superior in terms of entertainment; the soundtrack remains one of my favorite CDs, and stands well on its own separate from the film. I also find myself somewhat more engrossed in "The Way West" than "The West". However, from a historical perspective, I consider "The West" to be the better production. TW gives a broader and more balanced historical view, with more variety of speakers, than TWW. In its attempt to portray the genocide of the western Indian tribes, "The Way West" glosses over some important points: for example, that the Lakota were recent inhabitants of the Black Hills, having wrested it from other tribes by warfare during the 1700s...while one would get the impression from the Lakota representatives in TWW that the land was always theirs, and that they were a peaceable tribe until the Whites came. It is omissions like this which make one wonder what else wasn't being covered. On the other hand, TWW does go into more detail of the fight for the Black Hills than "The West" could, because of time constraints. Both are strong in their own ways, and well worth owning.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A compact version of the West history February 3, 2008
Format:DVD
I've seen both this film and Ken Burns' "The West", twice for each. Although this piece is not as long, detailed and comprehensive as Ken Burns' marathon version on the West, it is still a good piece. At least, it serves as an introduction, or is suitable for people who don't like heavy loads.

As the subtitle says, it only covers the years from 1845 to 1893. This arrangement is good enough for most people since most events happened during this period, including Custer's Last Stand, Chief Joseph, Red Cloud's War, Fort Laramie Treaty, Sitting Bull, Buffalo Bill...and so on. In addition, views from both red and white men are presented, which I think it quite balanced.

The story about native people is just one part of the history in the West, which is the main focus of this DVD. For those who want to know more, for example the Mormons, transcontinental railroads, Texas, Gold Rush...etc, I recommend Ken Burns's version.

Overall, I regard this piece as a warm-up for the American West history.
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16 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful and moving documentary April 26, 2007
Format:DVD
I don't know what ax the previous two reviewers had to grind. The documentary gives balanced views from both sides of a very complex story. There are amazing images. This is one of the best documentary series ever produced. I am a college professor and I regularly show episodes to my Introduction to America Studies class. The students say it teaches them things they never learned in American history classes before.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
all ok
Published 11 days ago by D. Steiner
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
it's old but a keeper
Published 3 months ago by qt
5.0 out of 5 stars video
i just love this tape so much it is great i just love to watch it thank you so much
Published 6 months ago by basti
5.0 out of 5 stars I like movies about America!
I saw this on tv a few years ago and I wanted the documentary for myself. I like stories about America, good and bad. This was the one I liked the most.
Published 23 months ago by steve buck
5.0 out of 5 stars Great!
This is a great series. It is very pro Native American and Anti White America but the information is awesome. I Love this DVD.
Published on February 17, 2012 by Tiger fan
5.0 out of 5 stars The Way West
Ken Burns is an amazing documentarian. He brings the West alive in this video. I learned things that I did not know previously. Take the time to watch. It is well worth the time.
Published on December 6, 2011 by Becky Kruse
5.0 out of 5 stars American Experience- The Way West: How The West was Lost & Won,...
I wanted an unbiased and detailed review of the impact the US Government and white settlers had on native tribes. Read more
Published on May 9, 2011 by Bruce A. Hendrickson
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent!
I watched this on PBS back in the 90's and was glued to the TV each night until the series was over. Read more
Published on August 31, 2010 by D. Byerley
1.0 out of 5 stars Sorry service from movie mars
The DVDs arrived in a timely manner. I watched the first one. THen tried loading the second disc to watch the conclusion. My DVD player kept saying disc error. Read more
Published on September 13, 2009 by James S. Dailey
4.0 out of 5 stars Very Useful Documentary
In style and format, this has all the markings of a Ken Burns documentary, despite being by Ric Burns (the archival photos, actors reading letters and official documents, even the... Read more
Published on September 8, 2009 by Prof TLP
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