Friday, September 11, 2015

"How the West Was Won" (1963)

The poster claims, “If you haven’t seen it in Cinerama, then you haven’t seen ‘How the West Was Won.’” Well, I can’t say that I had ever seen it on TV, so this was my first time if it counts at all. The Blu Ray release offers two viewing options: wide screen or Smilevision. Comparing the two, the later was far better, and you had to sit about an arm’s-length from the screen to get the best effect. In that manner, my seventeen-year-old was very impressed with the cinematography and editing. He kept saying it could have been made today.

And it is a piece of today’s technology that one is reminded of in watching “How the West Was Won.” It feels a lot like all of those Youtube videos shot on GoPro. The super-wide perspective is quite similar. It also has the challenges one would imagine a theatrical film shot on GoPro would have. It is certainly a gimmick, and couldn’t sustain a lot of films.

That said, the scope of this epic attempt at telling the history of western expansion across multiple generations is just the story for this gimmick. I don’t think I would have been able to stick with it in my younger years when I didn’t have the patience for Westerns, and this is really on the edges of that genre. Today, however, with my growing appreciation for the form, as well as my increasing love of history now that history teachers aren’t butchering the subject, I quite enjoyed the experience.


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