The West of the Imagination | 1986
A six-part weekly series exploring the myth and reality of America's western experience. The program tells the story of the American West as seen through the eyes of artists, photographers, cinematographers and entertainers--the popular culture imagemakers who have immortalized and mythologized the land and people west of the Mississippi.
The premiere episode, "The Romantic Horizon," traces the path of Lewis and Clark, revealing the new lands through the eyes of artist-explorers such as George Catlin, Karl Bodmer and Alfred Jacob Miller. Episode two, "The Golden Land," tells the saga of Manifest Destiny, which enabled Americans to push west in the mid-19th century. In episode three, "Images of Glory," the Civil War takes place in the East, while migration continues westward. The story is told through the art work of Thomas Moran and Albert Bierstadt, and photographers Eadweard Muybridge and Timothy O'Sullivan. The last of the Indian Wars and the completion of the transcontinental railroad heralds the beginning of the end of the "wild west."
"The Wild Riders," episode four, reveals the west of the artists Frederic Remington and Charley Russell, who helped to create the cowboy as a hero-figure in American folklore. Popular western figures, like cowboys, are examined through their treatment in the entertainment industry, as seen in episode four, "Play the Legend." The concluding episode, "Enduring Dreams," chronicles the American West of the 20th century.