Segments in this Video

Introduction: Myth of the American West (03:04)


Artists helped fashion an enduring myth of the American West. James Whitmore narrates this part of the series "West of the Imagination," which includes numerous dramatizations.

Unknown Land (01:57)

In the early 19th century, Europeans and Americans knew little of the land west of the Mississippi River. Romantic notions and wild rumors prevailed.

Preparing for an Expedition (02:25)

Meriwether Lewis, selected by President Jefferson to lead a scientific expedition into the Louisiana Territory, studies the natural world in Philadelphia under Charles Willson Peale.

Mammoth Unearthed! (03:29)

Peale gained notoriety in 1801 for excavating a complete skeleton of an American mastadon. This event sparked enthusiasm in America for scientific discovery.

Corps of Discovery Sets Out (02:07)

Trace the route of the Lewis and Clark expedition. Their sketches, maps, and specimens create excitement, but revealing the land's grandeur awaited artists.

Catlin Heads West (03:08)

After encountering an Indian delegation en route to Washington, George Catlin embarks on a career documenting the lives, history, and customs of Native American peoples.

Buffalo Bull's Back Fat (02:22)

At Fort Union in 1832, Catlin paints Blackfoot Chief Buffalo Bull's Back Fat. This and other works from Fort Union signal a successful artistic adventure.

Historical Record of Plains Indians (02:05)

The first artist to document Native Americans of the Great Plains, Catlin supplemented detailed paintings with notes and observations.

Whiskey and Smallpox (01:32)

Catlin records the devastating effects on Native American people of exposure to European culture and diseases.

Prince Maximilian of Wied (02:08)

German explorer Prince Maximilian of Wied, accompanied by Swiss painter Karl Bodmer, records landscapes, wildlife, and the customs, language, and culture of the upper plains.

Bodmer's Landscapes (01:50)

Bodmer paints dramatic landscapes of the Upper Missouri.

Portraits and Ceremonies (02:53)

At Fort McKenzie, Bodmer creates meticulous portraits of tribal leaders and chronicles ceremonial life.

Bodmer's Portfolio (01:44)

On return to Paris, Bodmer publishes a portfolio of 81 aquatints that brings Native American culture to the world.

Catlin Joins Military Expedition (02:59)

Later in the 1830s, artists accompany US Army expeditions. George Catlin falls victim to cholera while with the Army in what is now Oklahoma.

Buffalo Hunt (02:35)

In 1837, Scottish adventurer William Drummond Stewart hired American painter Alfred Jacob Miller to record his hunting trip across the plains and into the Rockies.

Mountain Men (03:15)

Miller paints the lives of Rocky Mountain trappers and traders. Images from the 8th Annual Fur Trade Rendezvous afford insight into a unique culture.

Catlin's Indian Gallery (02:16)

As traditional Indian societies fade away, George Catlin tries to preserve their memory through his collection of paintings and artifacts, augmented with live Native Americans.

Catlin's Show Collapses (02:21)

Initially a hit in Europe, Catlin's traveling show crumbles in debt. In 1852 he sells the collection to American industrialist, Joseph Harrison.

Mandan O-Kee-Pa Ceremony (02:29)

After selling his original collection, Catkin attempts to recreate images from sketches, notes and memory. One experience haunts him.

Images of a Passing Frontier (03:27)

Catlin recalls his vision of the West as it was before white man changed it forever. Whitmore recaps works of Catlin, Bodmer and Miller.

Interview With the Producer (04:17)

Dr William Goetzmann, producer of the series, discusses some of the characters featured in "The Romantic Horizon."

Credits: The Romantic Horizon (01:58)

Credits: "The Romantic Horizon," part of the series "West of the Imagination."

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The Romantic Horizon

Part of the Series : The West of the Imagination
DVD Price: $99.95
DVD + 3-Year Streaming Price: $149.93
3-Year Streaming Price: $99.95



"Upon the boundless plains of the West I have viewed man in the innocent simplicity of nature," said George Catlin of the Indians. This program follows the path of Lewis and Clark, revealing the new lands through the eyes of artist-explorers George Catlin, Karl Bodmer, and Alfred Jacob Miller. Canvas and notebook in hand, they scoured the wilderness and returned East with the first glimpses of the frontier that would soon capture the world’s imagination. (57 minutes)

Length: 57 minutes

Item#: BVL1102

ISBN: 978-1-4213-0540-0

Copyright date: ©1986

Closed Captioned

Reviews & Awards

Finalist in the 1987 American Film & Video Festival

Performance Rights

Prices include public performance rights.

Only available in USA and Canada.