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I first read the book Centennial in 1976 and was absolutely amazed at
how mere words seemed to actually take me back in time. The formation
of the earth, the dinosaurs, the buffalo and the native Indians and the
migration westward left me spellbound. I found myself re-reading
chapters just to be with the characters again. And then, in 1978 NBC
television somehow managed to bring all this adventure right into our
homes. In anticipation of this event, I purchased a new technological
marvel just introduced to the public, an RCA VCR player. This thing
weighed a ton and cost an incredible amount of money at that time, but
it was worth it. I have since purchased the VHS to be able to view this
masterpiece whenever I please. How good is this movie-mini series? In
my opinion, it's the BEST MOVIE EVER MADE, bar none. Being able to
watch 20 plus hours of character development entwined with an
engrossing story is pure enjoyment. How many others films have you ever
watched and felt as though you actually knew these people. And felt a
sense of sadness when they died off. Robert Conrad, Richard Chamberlan,
Alex Karas, Gregory Harrison and Dennis Weaver gave performances of a
lifetime, as did all the other talented people in the movie. Just think
of all the stars that participated in making this mini-series. Can you
imagine a studio trying to do that today? It will NEVER HAPPEN again.
Besy way to enjoy the movie? Watch it with your family. Since 1999, my
family and I watch this classic every year at Christmas time when the
kids are on their 2 week break. We spread the entire 20 plus hours out
over just 4 consecutive evenings. With mountains of popcorn closely at
hand each night, we all take part, each of us quoting lines from the
many characters even before they are spoke on the screen. When
beginning this tradition, my youngest daughter was 9 years old and
cried loudly when ever any major character had died, especially Levi
Zendt. My youngest son is 4 and will have many opportunities to watch
this great movie. Except for a rather weak final episode, this is the
"ALL TIME GREATEST FILM EVER MADE". And one of the best stories ever
Who do we have to convince to put this on DVD ???
I agree with all comments regarding a DVD of this film. It is by far
the best mini series ever.
Brilliant acting. Amazing photography. The costumes were incredible. And well researched.
The portrayal of the Native American people was very well done.
This should now be available for new generations to enjoy and understand how hard life was back then. The pioneer spirit should be allowed to live on in this creation.
The whole crew on this venture must be very proud of this masterpiece.
DVD NOW PLEASE
"Centennial" is a great mini-series to discover America
It goes over a
span of 200 years
It's about Pasquinel, a solitary trader with the
Indians, who made his way through territory no white man has ever
traveled, defending his trade and his life
It's about a man from
Scotland who had come seeking solitude, but he found friendship and
His name was Alexander McKeag
It's about the legendary Arapaho
leader, Lame Beaver, who knew that the coming of the white man was the
beginning of change
"Centennial" is also about strong men, men of destiny and vision It's also about stubborn men who only saw little in the windy, water-shy stretch of plains to stop for on their trek to a new place called Oregon
"Centennial" is also about men of integrity like the young Mennonite named Levi Zendt who could not know it at the time that he was destined to leave the home he loved and share the dream of Alexander McKeag It's about traders like Zendt, and soldiers like Maxwell Mercy It's about men of honor, like Major Mercy who worked tirelessly to bring about a lasting peace Men of vision like the stubborn German from the Volga named Hans Brumbaugh, who had walked from St. Louis to find gold It's about the Englishman Oliver Seccombe, who would found an empire from the dream of a lifetime A ranch that would spread from the Rocky Mountains on the west to the Nebraska border with Longhorns driven north from Texas by John Skimmerhorn and R. J. Poteet
"Centennial is about many more characters like Clay Basket, the fiery Indian woman who shared the life Pasquinel loved best; Lise Bockweiss, the golden-haired lady of St. Louis; Pasquinel brothers whose names would strike terror into the hearts of all white men who thought of crossing the plains; Frank Skimmerhorn, the obsessed militia colonel who led a disgraceful massacre against Cheyenne chief, Broken Thumb; the frontier lawman Alex Dumire who would fall prey to a kind of crime the presence of his badge and gun could not prevent; the traveling actors, Mervin and Maude Wendell who founded its fortune power and prestige on stolen money and a murder
I strongly agree that Centennial is arguably the best mini-series ever made. The production is top drawer, with wonderful locations, costumes, musical score, cast, and direction. It is at its best from the beginning up through the cattle drive segment, and weakens somewhat thereafter, especially at the end. This is a small criticism, however. The one particular thing that has always stuck in my mind over the years is the incredible, standout performance by Robert Conrad as Pasquinel. For most of his career, his best work was in lighter vehicles such as "The Wild, Wild West," and never distinguished by any particular depth of characterization. In the role of Pasquinel, however, Conrad delivered a performance of which any actor could be justly proud. He gives the character all of the realism and believability one could possibly want, and conveys the qualities, both good and bad, which make Pasquinel such a compelling figure. If only for that performance alone, Centennial is well worth watching.
I read the book Centennial in 1976 when it was first published in
hardback. Its the only book I ever read that kept me up all night. A
truly amazing story of the west, as it really was.
I missed the mini series in 1978 for some reason and just happened to see it available in the public library and took it in in one gulp. All I can say is WOW! What have I been missing all these years. Thank god for home video.
This is as close to a perfect presentation of Michener's novel as I could ever imagine. If you are in love with the west and it's history you will love every minute you spend watching this delightful program. It's characters capture every nuance of those in the novel. Romance, treachery, adventure, loyalty, history, the whole spectrum of humanity is here and well done too. And a word about the cast. How was it possible to assemble such a grand group. Just terrific. The only thing done lately to compare with this is "Gods and Generals".
If you love history I recommend it to you.
I watched WAY TOO MUCH T.V. in the 70's, but for lucky dogs like you that's cool! Centennial was probably my favorite mini of all of them! It covered generations of a few main families through 200yrs in Colorado, and was narrated awesomely by David Janssen, and had a mystery to boot! I don't have enough space to review this whole series, but here are a few notes: Yes, Robert Conrad and the first few episodes were the best in my opinion, and in the opinions of others on this site. His portrayal of Pasquinel was incredible. A French Canadian coming to America to hunt beaver and start a life here is the American dream! Just ask Arnold if you doubt me! Roots, Shogun (Richard C. was in that one too), and Shaka Zulu also were all excellent mini-series in this vein but Centennial hit home here in America. Not many of us can relate to the other three biggies, but Centennial was U.S. all the way. Other big name actors that did a great job in this were Andy Griffith, Alex Karras (Hans Brumbaugh, man he did a great job for a new actor!), Dennis Weaver, Dan Janssen, Crenna, Carrera, Chamberlain, Kellerman, Keith, Dalton, Vaughn, I could go on forever! A POWER cast indeed! What in the heck was the budget on this thing! Some library's have this, rent it now! Hopefully AMC will show this next year uncut for it's 25th Anniv. and hopefully it will also come out on a DVD set! I'll be the first in line!!! FLAMIO
Centennial is the single best mini series ever made, if not the best
ever made. Nothing else can nor will ever compare with it. AND before
someone states Lonesome Dove is better... it isn't. The "Cowboys with
Wayne was better than that. Centennial has totally believable characters
doing what they were born to do... they all work together to tell a rich
full story. Rich character development and true character development on
fronts... If you have never seen this, watch it with your family
can watch from 6 to 116) and remember it for what it truly is, a true
of people doing their best when times were at their worst. If only there
were movies still being made like this. All people want now are shoot em
or sex movies, neither of which I like. This is a movie people can sit
and watch, and feel good afterwards.
The only other true treasure I can think of is the 10th Kingdom... silly? yes of course but it is really fun to watch and enjoy. I may be Chineese but I can appreciate art and but of these movies are that. The Lost Kingdom is another of my favs, but not that good... And don't talk about the 9th Kingdom, Jonnie D. really scares me with that one...
Maybe someone should start a poll to get this released on DVD. There are so many totally BAD movies/series out on DVD. And yet this is not available. WHY doesn't the studio that made this release it on DVD? All I have is the 12 volume set on VHS, and it's almost worn out!
Television came a long way when this was released, but has regressed backwards. Even my people were shown for their part in this truly American saga. But... If only...
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
In excess of 20 hours, when I had finished watching it, I wanted to start
back at the beginning and see it all over again. Since this is a long
mini-series, the characters and storyline are well developed. As characters
grow old and die off, you feel a sadness that one rarely feels for a TV or
The lack of total good in any character adds to the realism. For instance, you find Pasquinel (Robert Conrad) very likeable, despite the fact that he is unfaithful to whomever he marries. As in real life, good does not always triumph over evil, as we painfully see when Pasquinel's "half-breed" son, Marcel, attempts to peacefully give himself up, and it brutally murdered.
And one better be prepared to have a whole box of tissues at hand during a most incredible scene where the army attacks a small tribe of Indian elderly, women and children and a young messenger boy evolves from hating the Indians to finding out very quickly that he does possesses a conscience and how painful that can be. The other scene which will haunt you long after it is over is where Lost Eagle stares tearfully into space as he holds a worthless trinket given to him by the U.S. government in exchange for his giving up his land and, more symbolically, his entire way of life and history.
The best way that I can explain how good Centennial is to put it this way: if the first few hours were chopped out and released as a movie the same year as Dances With Wolves, Centennial would have easily won the Academy award for Best Picture.
When looking up what Timothy Dalton had done over the years I saw
in the list... immediately it brought back a lot of memories. I saw the
series when I was 12 years old and I was very impressed with it. The way
Pasquinel ventured out alone into the unknown and made a living by trading
beaver skins, the way he meets his indian wife, the friendship he develops
with Alexander McKeag, The honest Levi Zendt, the great cattle drive...
after all those years those things are still in my memory and I recommend
this series to everyone who has a chance of seeing it.
I hope they put it on DVD because this is one series I would really like to show to my children, I am sure they would love it just as much as I did back then.
If you love history, you will love this film. How many times have you
watched a film or miniseries and wondered, what happened next? You need
not worry with Centennial. As a historian I hate loose ends. There are
We so often forget what "history" a geographical place has. This ties the history of a specific place through multiple eras very nicely. It follows the history of the individuals and families that inhabit an area from the late 1700s through the 1970s.
This story happens to takes place in Colorado. But even if you do not like the west or frontier stories, it does not matter. The story will captivate you. Every place has a history like this.
I watched it as a teenager in the 70s, taped it on VHS in the 80s and finally have it on DVD now. My wife and I watched it in under a week--all 21 hours! The acting and cinematography are good, but secondary--the story will enthrall you!
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