The West Movies & TV
This 1953 classic offers a Frederick Jackson Turner-like account of the evolution of the West, from Indians to frontiersmen to ranchers to farmers. Filled with archetypal imagery, the film can be read as a simple story of historical progress. But the film also raises a more complex set of questions about the role, or romantically imagined role, of "the gun" in winning the West.
This tale of an immigrant's experience in late nineteenth-century America climaxes in the Oklahoma Land Rush of 1983. The real story of western migration is far more complex than this romantic narrative suggests, but it probably worked out this way for somebody.
Several episodes of this PBS series deal with the West. Battle for the Wilderness explores the Hetch Hetchy controversy. The Way West offers a six-hour look at expansion from the gold rush to Wounded Knee. In the White Man's Image explore the educational missions aimed at "civilizing" Native Americans in the last decades of the nineteenth century.
This eight-part PBS series breaks from the linear narrative of continental conquest by telling the story of the West as a series of biographies. Another Ken Burns project, the series combines images, source readings, and historian interviews. There is also a useful companion site.