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  • West: The People [VHS]
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West: The People [VHS]


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Product Details

  • Actors: Stephen Ives, Peter Coyote, Gary Sinise, Jason Robards, Matthew Broderick
  • Format: Black & White, Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Number of tapes: 1
  • Studio: Pbs Home Video
  • VHS Release Date: September 24, 1996
  • Run Time: 82 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 6304209940
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #346,190 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com

Following the formula established by executive producer Ken Burns with The Civil War, director Stephen Ives begins his epic PBS series The West by emphasizing that America's westward expansion is inextricable from the history of its native peoples. The first episode, "The People," outlines the earliest beginnings of western discovery, focusing on the arrival of Cabeza de Vaca and Coronado from Spain in the early 1500s. The impact of the Europeans would turn the West, in the words of writer Rudolfo Anaya, into "an interrupted dream," culminating in the Southwest Pueblo Indian uprisings against the Spanish in the late 1600s.

While introducing the eloquent authority of series contributors such as writer N. Scott Momaday, this episode also charts the impact of the horse, the plagues of diphtheria and smallpox that decimated entire native populations, and the Spanish missionary establishment of San Francisco (1776) and Los Angeles (1781). Outlining Thomas Jefferson's "core of discovery" and the purchase of the Louisiana Territory, the episode closes with Lewis and Clark's successful quest for the Northwest Passage and their arrival at the Pacific coast on December 3, 1805. Here we see the stage being set for the westward exodus to follow, with crucial attention paid to its effect on Native Americans. Like Burns before him, Ives weaves a tapestry of history that's as vivid and dramatic as any story you could imagine, and watching this episode makes you eager for the rest of the series. --Jeff Shannon

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By darragh o'donoghue on October 2, 2001
'The West' boasts all the virtues and vices of senior producer Ken Burns. It is an epic, nine-hour documentary narrating the history of the American West, that vast cauldron of national mythologies, hopes, dreams and delusions. Part of its project is to demythologise the West, correct the Hollywood lies, where comforting legend was preferred to prickly truth. When we think of the West, we probably think of John Wayne and Monument Valley, the White Man's Manifest Destiny, 'Go West, young man' and all that; so it is deliberately provacative of the film-makers to foreground the Native American experience, making their history central, the norm, with the white man's story something (catastrophic) that happened to them, rather than something the white man achieved. This, though, seems little more than a gesture - later episodes deal with the usual, canonical white-centred stories, the Pioneers, the railways, the Civil War etc., albeit from an impeccably liberal perspective.
'The West' is a history, and features contributions from leading historians. Unlike their British counterparts, who are obsessed with prosaic detail and unglamorous methodology, gathering information and than cautiously constructing narratives, US historians are poets, with a striking vocabulary full of expansive, Faulkner-like phrases, good at expressing the 'idea' and the 'myth' of the West, but not so persuasive on the fine print, the actual, unmythic daily realities. There is a need to create and connect stories, to tame the unfathomable West, that can only fail.
This is a documentary aimed at the senses - the rich soundtrack is full of Indian chants, period recreations and glorious American folk; visually, the film offers eye-popping vistas of endless plains, deep sunsets, raging rivers and lofty mountains.
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By SPS on December 7, 2014
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Excellent movie, must see
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