Directed by: Stephen Ives. This miniseries took up a good 2 or 3 weeks of my life, but I enjoyed every minute of it. If I ever doubted I was a big history nerd, I need doubt no more. This was a really compelling, well done, evenly paced, thoughtful, poetic, majestic, educational and illuminating documentary miniseries made for public television. What more do you want? It’s even got some famous voices doing some voiceovers (I could spot John Lithgow’s cartoonish whiny tone out of a crowd). I’d heard all about Ken Burns from some friends, but this one in particular caught my eye when I saw it pass through my public library system. This kind of thing renews my faith in American film sensibility and in public broadcasting in general. Although, come to think of it, this series was funded by General Motors, so maybe this should renew my faith in some kind of cooperative private/public partnership in order to yield great cinema for the good of the public and for the strength of the culture itself. Anyone remotely interested in the myth of the West and its never ending importance in the shaping of modern American consciousness and its enduring dialogue with every culture around it (not least, Canadian culture) would do well to commit a few hours of their lives to this. If you’re looking for some easy-breezy way to plug your brain into the snooze box and unwind and unload your cares and lose yourself in the comfort of television, please please please do it with this miniseries instead of watching another season of Gossip Girl or whatever shit you people are watching these days. You won’t regret it, I promise you. As for me, I’ll be checking out some of Ken Burns’ many other titles for PBS in the near future.