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The Great American West, the new IMAX film at the National Air & Space Museum, begins, incongruously, at the headquarters of Napoleon Bonaparte circa 1803. Predicting that the wilderness will never be suitable for human habitation, the emperor signs away the Louisiana Territory to Thomas Jefferson for four cents an acre—proving that the French are better at pastry than prognostication. What follow are panoramic aerial shots intercut with historical vignettes of the pioneering life. The photography of California’s redwood forests, the Grand Tetons, and other natural wonders is gorgeous. Fans of John Ford westerns will recognize the stone spires of Arizona’s Monument Valley. Less diverting are the historical re-enactments, which quickly gloss over the more sordid aspects of U.S. history. In recounting the decimation of the Nez Percé Indians, narrator Jason Robards intones that “the West could be unjust” as though geography, and not the palefaces’ greed, were somehow responsible. At 7 p.m. Friday-Sunday at the National Air & Space Museum’s Langley Theater, 6th & Independence Ave. SW. $4. (202) 357-2700. (Greg Kitsock)