Sunday, December 9, 2007

Jeremiah Johnson

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)


Anonymous said...

I thought I recognized the bricks and shadows in the pic. It's lovely, so graceful.

What were your parents thinking? 1972 ... probably wasn't as graphic as it would be now, but it does sound disturbing.

I watched Impromptu - and early Hugh Grant movie in which he plays someone other than himself. That was kind of weird. Judy Davis plays George Sand. Kind of fun, kind of mediocre, but easy watching on a Saturday night.

Anonymous said...

Good morning Steve. I suspect that your parents were as unsuspecting as you about the violence of the movie. They probably thought it was just a
Western film.

Anonymous said...

I remember liking "Jeremiah Johnson" and the Richard Harris movie "A Man Called Horse" I think of those two when I think of that era's "Indian" movies.
Also, now that I think of it, The Man who Loved Cat Dancing" was another one. I should check these out again. "Little Big Man" must have come out during that period too?

I vaguely remember Jeremiah talking to some frozen dead guy--did he?

Anonymous said...

Squirrel: Indeed he did!