Lewis And Clark: Great Journey West

on April 20, 2002 by Annlee Ellingson
   In anticipation of the bicentennial of Meriwether Lewis and William Clark's historic expedition, this docudrama traces their three-year journey to find a water route to the Pacific Ocean--the fabled Northwest Passage. Appointed by President Thomas Jefferson to explore the newly bought Louisiana Purchase and detail the flora and fauna they found within it, the adventurers faced numerous dangers and survived only with the help of the Native Americans they met along the way.

   Given the film's abbreviated running time and target demographic, the events depicted in "Lewis and Clark" are abridged and sanitized. A character named York is described as Clark's slave "and friend." Sacagawea's participation in the excursion and her marriage to a French trapper (she was 16 and pregnant when she met Lewis and Clark) are colored as voluntary and enthusiastic. The two men are described as great friends despite their great differences, but it's unclear exactly what their differences are. And while the film does mention Lewis' apparent suicide, it does little to foreshadow his depression leading up to it.

   In addition, while the scenery is gorgeously photographed and a thundering buffalo herd fully utilizes the powerful sound of a large-format theatre, the storytelling is not particularly compelling: As Jeff Bridges narrates, the men and women portraying the historic character merely act out what he's saying, doing little to engage viewers in the story. Narrated by Jeff Bridges. Directed by Bruce Neibaur. Written by Mose Richards. Produced by Lisa Truitt and Jeff T. Miller. A Destination Cinema release. Large-format docudrama. Not yet rated. Running time: 42 min

Tags: Jeff Bridges, Director Bruce Neibaur, writer Mose Richards, Producer Lisa Truitt, Jeff T. Miller, Destination Cinema, Docudrama, Lewis and Clark, Sacagawea's

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