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Ken Burns Presents: The West (1996)

Cast: Peter Coyote
Director: Stephen Ives, Stephen Ives
    see all cast/crew...
Rating: Not Rated
Studio: PBS Home Video
Genre: Documentary, Military, Civil War
Languages: English
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This title is currently out of print.

The West (Disc 1 of 5) (1996)
This first episode in filmmakers Ken Burns and Stephen Ives' epic nine-part series focuses on the various peoples who inhabited or desired the lands of the West prior to 1806. From the natives whose identity and culture were continuous with the vast, rugged landscapes -- the Comanches, the Hidatsas, the Zunis, the Kiowa -- to the explorers coming in search of glory for God and country, these are tales of origin, myth, ownership, and the collision of worlds. Director Ives uses memoirs, journals, letters, and breathtaking live cinematography to recreate the spirit and tumult of a time when the seductive freedom and wilderness of the Western landscape -- not to mention the souls of its people -- were put up for grabs. A startling glimpse into America's rocky past and an invaluable tool for educators. ~ Sarah Welsh, All Movie Guide

The West (Disc 2 of 5) (1996)
Episode Two of director Stephen Ives' ambitious documentary covers the years from 1806 to 1848. Once Lewis and Clark's Corps of Discovery had mapped the unknown regions between the Mississippi and the Pacific, droves of fur trappers, itinerant adventurers, and experimental communities took to the trails and headed west. Empire Upon the Trails explores this archetypal American journey, and carefully examines the facts and personal stories behind such mythic events as the Trail of Tears, the defending of the Alamo, the Mormons' flight to Utah under Brigham Young, and the bloody Mexican-American War. ~ Sarah Welsh, All Movie Guide

The West (Disc 3 of 5) (1996)
Episode Four of director Stephen Ives' epic series covers the period from 1856 to 1868 -- during which the new communities of the West found themselves racked by divisive hatreds and social unrest. The boom was far outpacing any government attempts to regulate the new territories from Washington, so the outlaw justice that would fuel so much of our mythology about the West reigned. Local leaders fought bitterly over the issue of slavery -- which would also be an important contributor to the civil war exploding back east -- and self-governing communities obsessed with maintaining their land and their absolute freedom were at each other's throats. Specific topics include: the Civil War battle at Glorietta Pass, the Mountain Meadows massacre in Utah, the 1864 massacre of a Cheyenne camp by Colonel John Chivington, Juan Cortina's attempted revolt against American power in Texas, a young Samuel Clemens' infatuation with the Western landscape, and the beginning of Custer's campaign against Native American warriors. ~ Sarah Welsh, All Movie Guide

The West (Disc 4 of 5) (1996)
Episode Six in producer Ken Burns' epic series chronicles the short and tragic period from 1874 through 1877, when the reality of a centralized federal power began to collide with the dream of a wild Western freedom. Regulators in Washington, possessed of formidable armies, cracked down harshly on the Lakota and Cheyenne in the Black Hills, the Nez Perce in modern-day Idaho and Oregon, and the Mormons in Utah -- all at a time when the country was celebrating 100 years of independence from British oppression. Specific topics include: Sitting Bull (Tatanka-Iyotanka) and his rallying of Native American forces, America's betrayal of the Fort Laramie Treaty, the daily life of an army soldier charged with patrolling and defending the West, the Battle of Little Bighorn, the execution of John D. Lee, and the forced exile of Chief Joseph and his Nez Perce. ~ Sarah Welsh, All Movie Guide

The West (Disc 5 of 5) (1996)
The West, a nine-part documentary created for public television, was more than five years in the making. From acclaimed filmmaker Ken Burns and award-winning documentarian Stephen Ives, this comprehensive series takes an honest look at the taming of the land by unveiling its myths, inequities, and exploitations, while still embracing the heroics and adventures of this momentous period in American history. The West: Ghost Dance, Vol. 8 covers the years 1887 to 1914 when the West was rapidly developing its industrial forces. The episode traces events from the Oklahoma Land Rush to the rise of mining towns such as Butte, Montana. It examines the displacement of the Native American people, and includes a segment on the horrific 1890 Battle of Wounded Knee. Ghost Dance takes its title from a ceremonial ritual that Native Americans performed during this period in hopes of restoring the lost era of the buffalo. Other tapes in the series include The People, Empire Upon the Trails, Speck of the Future, Death Runs Riots, The Grandest Enterprise Under God, Fight No More Forever, The Geography of Hope and One Sky Above Us. ~ Sally Barber, All Movie Guide

GreenCine Member Ratings

The West (Disc 1 of 5) (1996)
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8.33 (6 votes)
The West (Disc 2 of 5) (1996)
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9.67 (3 votes)
The West (Disc 3 of 5) (1996)
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9.67 (3 votes)
The West (Disc 4 of 5) (1996)
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9.67 (3 votes)
The West (Disc 5 of 5) (1996)
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9.33 (3 votes)

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