Ray Mears in the West


I’m not usually one to watch things on BBC4, unless it’s a classic film. My dad told me a new series about the how the United States was won. How the Wild West was Won with Ray Mears, Mears who knows a thing or two about surviving outdoors. The first episode aired last night, which I caught up with today on iPlayer today. My expectations weren’t that high, thinking there would be more about living in the landscape.

Instead it was an informed 60 minutes, breaking up the country starting with the Mountains this week before looking at the plains and desert landscape. Focusing on the 1800’s as settlers started to move westward from Washington and the 13 colonies. I now understand why so many people in Westerns always travelled to Oregon which was a major trail to the west before going north or south. An eye-opener for someone who is usually bogged down in the films that depict that era. A welcome addition to my exploration of the Western, always wanting to find the fact in the fiction that romanticized this era which was anything but easy.

The first episode looks at the gold miners, living alongside Cherokee Native Americans, to the fateful Donner party settlers in 1834 who suffered that winter whilst moving west. It really shakes the myths that surround that era. I was reminded of a few films, most notably The Big Trees (1952) and The Big Trail (1939) to name but two. Giving us the landscapes we know and love from the big screen, I can remember a few shots taken by early photographers too. Also looking at the reliance on wood for the settlers to move and live. I look forward to the upcoming episodes.

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3 responses

  1. Nice review. You might like the book “Snowbound” by David Lavender which brings to light the Donner Party and Oregon Trail crossing.

    May 23, 2014 at 4:46 pm

  2. OH! thank you for this. Gotta check it out.

    May 25, 2014 at 1:37 am

    • You’re welcome

      May 25, 2014 at 5:06 pm

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