Ken Burns has been making films for more than thirty years. Since the Academy Award nominated BROOKLYN BRIDGE in 1981, Ken has gone on to direct and produce some of the most acclaimed historical documentaries ever made. Ken has been the recipient of more than twenty-five honorary degrees and has delivered many treasured commencement addresses. He is a sought after public speaker, appearing at colleges, civic organizations and business groups throughout the country. Here you'll find his 1 part documentaries that are not part of a series.
The West begins as the whole world to the people who live there. It becomes a New World when Europeans arrive, a world shaken by incompatible visions. And almost three centuries later, when Lewis and Clark venture west to find a Northwest Passage, this world becomes the testing-ground for a young nation's continent-spanning dream.
Americans head west along many pathways -- following the fur trade into the mountains, fighting for self-determination in Texas, seeking religious freedom in Utah or a better life along the Oregon Trail. But whatever direction they travel, they move closer with every step to a “Manifest Destiny” that will make the West their own.
The Gold Rush brings the whole world to the West, as 49ers from Asia, South America and the eastern states scramble for “a share of the rocks,” littering the hills with mining towns and creating the West’s first metropolis. But in the push to strike it rich, many are violently pushed aside.
Civil war comes early to the West. In “Bleeding Kansas,” abolitionists battle for free soil. In Utah, federal troops march against Mormon polygamy. And along the Rio Grande, oppressed Mexican Americans rebel. The war between North and South unleashes brute savagery in the West, and leaves behind an army prepared for total war against the native peoples of the plains.
A triumph of the human spirit, the transcontinental railroad opens a new era in the West, carrying homesteaders onto the prairies, bringing cowboys up the cattle trail from Texas, helping give women the vote in Utah and sending buffalo hunters onto the plains, where they drive a symbol of the West -- and a way of life -- to the brink of extinction.
The federal government tightens its grip on the West, but three bold spirits remain defiant -- Sitting Bull, who prophesies his people's greatest victory but cannot prevent their ultimate defeat; Brigham Young, who must sacrifice a spiritual son to save his church; and Chief Joseph, who triumphs in defeat as an indomitable voice of conscience for the West.
Newcomers arrive by the millions, bringing a new spirit of conformity to the West. Indian children are taught to forsake their heritage, Mormons are told to abandon a tenet of their faith, and new laws deny Chinese and Mexican Americans a place in society. Yet the legend of the “Wild West” lives on, thanks to the greatest showman of the age.
As settlers race to claim tribal lands, Native Americans take up the Ghost Dance, trusting in its power to restore a lost way of life until their hopes are crushed at Wounded Knee. The new century marks a new era in the West, an age of aqueducts and smelters. But the West remains what it has always been, a world waiting for a dream.
Los Angeles steals its water supply, millions of Mexicans migrate north, and Hollywood begins to shape the West and the nation's image of it.