Appellate Judge James A. Stewart is impressed. It turns out Maverick isn't the story of the West, after all.
"The Arch is a perfect symbol of westward expansion because it's the American spirit of being able to accomplish the impossible."
As Americans settled the West, millions passed through St. Louis. Perched on the Mississippi River, it was a must stop—until railroads and their hub in Chicago took over that central role in the journey.
In the 1930s, St. Louis lawyer Luther Ely Smith, distressed by his city's decline, decided a memorial to that westward journey and to President Thomas Jefferson, the man behind the Louisiana Purchase, was needed. That memorial wasn't completed until 1965, but the Gateway Arch has been a symbol of St. Louis ever since.
The Gateway Arch: A Reflection of America, narrated by St. Louis native Kevin Kline, details the efforts to build that arch. It also provides historical perspective on the westward expansion and the events surrounding the construction of the great arch.
Gateway Arch won't surprise anyone much—it's a typical documentary, with experts, and vintage drawings, photos, and film—but it's done well. There's no filler in the hour, and Kline provides an understated narration that keeps the history in the spotlight. Even the half hour of extras has a lot of interesting information and very little fat; the documentary could have easily gone to 90 minutes.
You'll find scenes that are dark from natural lighting, flaws in the vintage footage, and occasional flaring, but most of those problems seem to come from the original source material.
The Gateway Arch has an array of St. Louis underwriters, but if you're interested in architectural triumphs, you'll want to see it. At nearly $25 on Amazon.com, though, it'd better be a serious interest.
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