Before the birth of cinema, it was traveling vaudeville performances that started the era of mass entertainment. And the most famous of them of all was Buffalo Bill’s Wild West, which arrived in France in 1905.
It offered entertainment, combined with a celebration of American dominance. The film shows how the mythical character of Buffalo Bill was created through his shows, and how he sold his own vision of America to the public. But it also set out the blueprint for American imperialism. Buffalo Bill in fact succeeded in hiring Chief Sitting Bull, the winner of the battle of Little Bighorn against General Custer. However in the show the cowboy rewrote history and depicted a defeat of the Native Americans.
His show started a new era in entertainment. His troupe attracted the public with a morning parade through the town where they would put on their show. The real stars were the “cowboys and indians” – that’s what the public wanted to see! And also the animals. But Buffalo Bill also tried to ‘internationalise’ the show by bringing in Chinese and Japanese people and Cossacks.