Watch Ken Burns' The West
- 1 Season
Ken Burns' The West, or simply The West - presented by filmmaker Ken Burns - is a serialized documentary of the American Old West aired on public television stations in the USA. Ken Burns gained fame for earlier documentaries on the Civil War and baseball. Here, however, Burns is the executive producer. He provides the financial backing and overall guidance to bring this show to television. Direction is within the hands of Stephen Ives, with whom Burns collaborated in at least two other shows. Lacking any significant motion picture film from the 1800s, Burns and Ives employ the proven technique of still photography with narration to bring The West to life. This is not a drama, and Ives depends heavily upon historical archives and Hollywood's most celebrated voice actors to paint a picture of the Old West. Indeed, narrator Peter Coyote and voiceover actors John Lithgow, Adam Arkin, Gary Sinise and others truly are the series' cast. The West originally aired on public broadcast airwaves in eight episodes presented in chronological order, beginning in 1806 with episode one, The People. Episode two transitions into the period of the Louisiana Purchase, the Republic of Texas and the Mexican-American War; it ends with the California gold rush. Episodes three through seven document westward expansion, the Civil War, Reconstruction and the railroads. By episode seven, The Geography of Hope, the century is drawing to a close, and the automobile and telephone are set to transform rural life forever. The last chapter, episode eight, relives the turn of the century, industrialization and the years just before World War I in 1914. Viewers may see the final episode online or elsewhere as One Sky Above Us, episode eight, and Ghost Dance.