Saturday, March 28, 2009

How the West Was Won (1962) [G] ****

Spanning the sixty years between 1830 and 1890, How the West Was Won is an epic saga about the opening of the American West, told through the lives of three generations of the Rawlings and Prescott families, beginning in the 1830s Rockies Mountains with mountain man Linus Rawlings trapping beaver, and ending in the 1880s Southwest with Linus' son Marshal Zeb Rawlings defeating a gang of train robbers. Bookended by these two scenes are scenes depicting pioneer families westward bound on the canal transportation system, the Mexican War, the discovery of gold in California, a wagon train traveling west from Missouri to California, the Pony Express and the telegraph, the Civil War battle at Shiloh, steamboats on the Sacramento River, building the transcontinental railroad, hunting the American bison and fighting the Indian Wars.

The magnificence of the cinematography and the musical score is matched by the screenplay and the A-list acting talent assembled for this project. This is a wonderful cinematic experience, whether you are a preteen studying U.S. history or a sixty-something taking a trip down memory lane. How the West Was Won ranks among the greatest Western movies of all time. The recently-released Blu-ray high definition disc of the film offers a whole new level of viewing experience. Gone are the two vertical lines which served as a reminder that the film was originally shown in Cinerama theaters with three projectors displaying overlapping images. In addition, the picture is amazingly clear and sharp with vivid colors, and the soundtrack is thrilling and memorable. If you have enjoyed classic, epic Westerns like The Big Country, Cheyenne Autumn, Dances with Wolves and Little Big Man, you won't want to miss How the West Was Won.

Label: drama, history, western
Internet Movie Database
RottenTomatoes Averages (critics=72, viewers=72)

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