Sunday, December 9, 2007
Last night I watched “Jeremiah Johnson,” Robert Redford’s 1972 movie about a taciturn mountain man in Colorado in the late 1800s.
When I was six, my family went to a drive-in theater in Tampa to see this movie. I remember it being incredibly long and boring. We had trouble with the speaker, so we couldn’t really hear. I can’t remember whether my little brother was with us or not - he would have been two - but I think one or both of us cried. After a while, we gave up and went home. We never saw the ending.
Since then, this movie has been family code for the epitome of a boring film. We might see something unpleasant, but we would always say , “Well, at least it wasn’t ‘Jeremiah Johnson.’”
Imagine my surprise when it turned out to be, actually, a pretty good movie. And a beautiful one, too, with wide shots of the mountains and forests of Utah, where it was made.
Here’s what I don’t get, though: It’s pretty violent. I still vividly remembered the scene where Johnson comes home to find his Indian wife and adopted son murdered, and burns down his own house. Johnson kills countless Indians, and comes across a family of settlers who’d all been scalped.
Why on earth did my parents take me to see THAT? What were they thinking?
(Photo: Leaf, Washington D.C., Nov. 2007)