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DVD ~ Peter Coyote
When some people use the word "documentary" they seem to imbue it with an expectation of total objectivity--as if one could eliminate all traces of cultural experience from one's makeup and discover a shining path of ultimate "truth" simply by the act of becoming a filmmaker. Nonsense. We are all a product of our times and of the culture in which we were raised and educated. Documentaries are always, always, always selective. There is no such thing as total objectivity, either in writing or in filmmaking.
That said, this is an enormously valuable effort to sift through an extraordinary cross-section of materials and condense them into 12 and 1/2 hours of very viewable, enlightening and often extremely moving stories. Yes, that's right, I said "condense". The documents available on the history of the West literally fill many museums, and unless you plan to spend every waking moment of your life from the time you learn to read until the day you die as a serious scholar of western lore, you will never gain a complete knowledge of the subject. This is an outstanding effort to provide a distillation of the sense and feel of the west from the earliest days of indian tribal inhabitation to the passing of the frontier. To have even attempted that feat in a 12 and 1/2 hour presentation took courage and imagination. Although I have often grumbled to myself about Ken Burn's relentless imposition of an over-stylized montage technique on the presentation of his documentaries, I have nothing but astonished admiration for his accomplishment in crafting this mini-series. Bravo.
Yes, yes, it doesn't tell the whole story of the West. Yes, it is selective. And, yes, there are other things that could have been included.Read more ›
This is an absolutely beautiful documentary, and it meets all of Ken Burns' own directoral standards, and more. But of course this would have to be the case, just in terms of basic logic, since Burns put up the money for this project.
The criticism of Peter Coyote, and of those interviewed in this documentary, couldn't be more invalid.....Coyote's voice and demeanor and attitude are all perfect for this project and I cannot imagine anyone else matching the high quality of his voice-over comments.
The experts interviewed throughout this film, are the best in the world when it comes to the history of the West (including J.S. Holliday, the premier historian/writer of California gold rush history).
As for the negative reviewer's criticism of the "panning" of some of the photos, this panning movement is done with the same high quality that Ken Burns provided when he directed his other documentaries, and is only used in specific cases, where the photograph gained value-added by the technique.
This is such a beautiful documentary set, and is done so professionally and with such sensitivity and skill throughout, that it would be a shame if any of you who are considering purchasing "The West" DVD set, failed to acquire this wonderful documentary, because of a single, off-the-wall, inappropriate, and invalid review.
But then the above comments are simply my opinion, and you the reader of these reviews, will have to judge for yourself.
Never have I witnessed such openness in the telling of the triumphs and tragedies of America's westward expansion ~ it took more than 75 historians on this project to make it right. Right from the git go we have Episode One(The People/Bonus DVD Features), Episodes Two & Three (Empire Upon The Trails/The Speck of the Future), Episodes Four & Five (Fight No More Forever/The Geography of Hope) and Episodes Eight & Nine (Ghost Dance/One Sky Above Us) ~ featuring some of the most beautiful photography of our country. The entire collection covers the period of 1800 to 1915, wonderfully narated by Peter Coyote (whose voice sounds very much like Henry Fonda).
This is one of, if not the best documentaries on "The West", I've ever seen. Been collecting Time/Life leatherbound books on the subject for years ~ Frederic Remington and Charles M. Russell books and paintings ~ plus bronze of "The Mountain Man", "The Rattlesnake" and "Comin' Through the Rye" by Frederic Remington. Ken Burns "The West" on DVD is something I will cherish the rest of my life ~ will pass it on to my children and grandchildren, so they will know this is the way it was moving WEST!
Total Time: 12 Hours ~ PBS B8891 ~ (9/30/2003)
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The West is another "must see" Ken Burns documentary. It gives an accurate and realistic view the struggles and challenges of the settling of the western frontier. Read morePublished 2 days ago by Michael Cameron
This does not have closed captions. No $45 DVD set produced in 2010 without closed captions, gets more than 3 stars. Period.Published 4 days ago by Ted Kurkowski
I was very disappointed in this series. I am a huge fan of Ken Burn's PBS work, and was looking forward to The West. Read morePublished 4 months ago by jcass
Wonderful long form documentary. This does give more time to the Europeans than Indigenous history but is more even handed than most historical documentaries. Read morePublished 5 months ago by AlaskaAmazonCustomer
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