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Need recommendations for DVDs re American West

Discussion in 'History' started by RedEllen, Aug 11, 2016.

  1. RedEllen

    RedEllen New commenter

    I have briefly looked at The Way West (1995) but felt it was a little dull/ dated. The West by Ken ? Seemed very (too) detailed .
    I also came across the drama series by Spielberg which is fictional with various historical references but some of the scenes on the native Americans I thought could be useful.
    Any suggestions please?
  2. magic surf bus

    magic surf bus Star commenter

    Dances With Wolves took a different angle on its representation of native Americans, although it wasn't the first to attempt this.

    I suppose it depends on whether you want historical 'facts' or a good story that represents the values and attitudes of the old West. If I were going for the latter I would look no further than 'The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance' by John Ford. East coast latecomer sophistication versus the rugged pioneer spirit of those who went out and tamed the country. Plus John Wayne. Maybe show it at the end of the unit of work?

    Ken question mark is Ken Burns, and his documentary series The West is superb TV - used selectively it would work very well for factual detail, but as you say there's a lot of it.
    RedEllen likes this.
  3. Spiritwalkerness

    Spiritwalkerness Star commenter

    I have just 'sung' the theme to this to Klutz, tea shot out of his nose and he hasn't stopped laughing. Anyway, I have to agree, the series was fabulous.

    You might find this useful
    RedEllen likes this.
  4. Spiritwalkerness

    Spiritwalkerness Star commenter

    Another good PBS documentary was Gold Rush. And there's the one called Frontier Life (I think that's what it's called) I don't suppose Little House on the Prairie (NOT the twee tv series) but the slightly more gritty film would be any use?
    RedEllen likes this.
  5. peter12171

    peter12171 Star commenter

    If you're going to cover the building of the trans-continental railway look at the Seven Wonders of the Industrial World series...there is a great episode on that. There's also a 3 DVD BBC documentary box on Watt Earp, Billy the Kid and General Custer (The Wild West) that is good.

    For something a bit more light-hearted the friction between farmers and cowboys is seen in the song 'The Farmer and The Cowman' from the musical Oklahoma.
  6. FrankWolley

    FrankWolley Star commenter

  7. pennyh.

    pennyh. Occasional commenter

    Ray Mears How the Wild West was won
    Crash course in US History
    America the story of Us
    Loads on native Americas on you tube
    Explore PBS website
    Explore American school sites and power points
    sabrinakat and RedEllen like this.
  8. magic surf bus

    magic surf bus Star commenter

    For a nice example of popular Wild West imagery combined with a hint of changing social values, you could use this 1993 advert from Levi's as a one off source, homework or lesson starter:

    RedEllen likes this.
  9. armandine2

    armandine2 Established commenter

  10. MarkJH

    MarkJH New commenter

    RedEllen likes this.
  11. misssnow

    misssnow New commenter

    I set my Year 10 students the Ken Burns episodes for homework (as part of their AW revision to mix it up a bit!). They did actually really enjoy it - very in depth but they found it very interesting, I said they only had to watch one episode but lots of them watched more than one. Ray Mears How the West was won is always excellent. Rich Burns' 'You can go to hell, i'm going to Texas' is also very good for looking at the cattle industry - I can't remember off the top of my head if I had to mute any parts due to swearing though?
    The series Deadwood is incredible but WAAAAAAYYYYY too rude for the kids! As a teacher I loved it though!
    sabrinakat likes this.
  12. Blackimpala

    Blackimpala New commenter

    Not DVDs exactly but timelinestv has a series of short films on different aspects of the development of the American West. You can find it at http://www.timelines.tv/index.php?t=4&e=1#. The film of Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee is also very good. Based on the book, it spans the period from the Battle of Little Big Horn to Wounded Knee and there are lots of little things to pick up on to illustrate various aspects of Native American life, particularly on the reservations. The start of the remake of True Grit is good when doing Law and Order, particularly with the three different men on the scaffold. YouTube also has loads of good (and not so good!) videos - clips from the old show Little House on the Prairie for example can be used to show the idealised world of the Homesteaders. I used to use the song Go West by 80's Goth band The Cult as well. If you check out the lyrics, you will see why... And if you fancy something funny, check out the South Park episode on the Mormons - great to make you smile but definitely NOT for your students!
  13. MarkJH

    MarkJH New commenter

    I gave the link to the Timelines.tv series ( 'Seven Journeys in the American West') in an earlier post. It was originally made by the producer Andrew Chater for the BBC to use for GCSE American West. Like many of his other series, including the one known to History teachers as 'Geordie Nazis', it features dramatisations of eye-witness accounts from the period. In my view, Andrew Chater's educational series are much better than some of the others the BBC had made around the same time, like 'Black Peoples of the Americas'. Sadly, the BBC no longer commissions schools' History TV series but most of Andrew Chater's are available via his Timelines.tv site.
    I don't think that anyone has mentioned the episode of 'Days That Shook the World' on the Gunfight at the OK Corral. It last c. 30 minutes. I have the DVD box set of this BBC series, which has proved worth its weight in gold as a resource over the years but no doubt this episode can be found somewhere online.
    Please note that 'Deadwood' deliberately uses anachronistic dialogue ( most of it bad!) The producers decided at an early stage that to use authentic Wild West slang and cuss words would sound silly to a modern audience. Flavours of more genuine 19th Century-sounding speech can be found in both film versions of 'True Grit', which use much of the original dialogue from the novel by Charles Portis.
    RedEllen and FrankWolley like this.
  14. FrankWolley

    FrankWolley Star commenter

    A good tip - Andrew Chater's programmes were some of the best I used during my teaching career!
    RedEllen likes this.
  15. RedEllen

    RedEllen New commenter

    Really sorry for not replying to these earlier - had problems with my livebox v storm and the storm won! LOTS to have a look at and thank you all for your help , will take on board all the points made.
  16. RedEllen

    RedEllen New commenter

    nope, but I am now , thanks
  17. sabrinakat

    sabrinakat Star commenter

    Try Tony Robinson's recent Wild West (with 3D photographs) - brilliant. Think Ken Burns' is brilliant, of course!
  18. MrsArmitage

    MrsArmitage Occasional commenter

    I'll also give a massive nod of approval to the Tony Robinson series. The Ray Mears series was also very good, and Timelines TV is useful too. The PBS Billy the Kid programme was fantastic too. If anyone is interested, I'm sticking some of these in a Google drive folder which I can share. I'm not teaching this syllabus anymore and am quite happy to share stuff with people who are! PM me if you're interested in having the link to the folder, and I can stick other stuff up there too.

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