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Archive for October 8th, 2013

Meeks4

Written by Jon Warner

Tuck what is called Meek’s Cutoff…a bad cutoff for all that tuck it. …I will just say, pen and tong will both fall short when they grow to tell of the suffering the company went through.
-Samuel Parker, 1845

As Meek’s Cutoff opens, we see water. Cool, rushing water, providing a cleansing and peaceful sound. We see a group of pioneers trying to ford a river, up to the top of their wagon wheels in water. Up to their shoulders in water as they wade across they linger nearby and fill up their buckets. They are lost, but at least they have water. Question is, when will they find more once they move on? Meek’s Cutoff is based on a true story that was documented in 1845 as a group of pioneers decided to hire Stephen Meek, a guide and trapper to lead them on a shortcut through central Oregon to the Willamette Valley. He ended up getting them lost, as they wandered around the south-central deserts of Oregon as their water supply dwindled, their patience wore out, and death closed in. Reichardt’s brilliant western captures the hardships of the wagon train existence with a chilling reality overshadowing the beautiful images that fill the screen. In fact the dichotomy between the quiet desperation of the pioneers and the stark beauty of the desert landscape is one of the film’s great tensions. The other great tension, is the battle of the sexes, as Reichardt examines the roles of women and men, subverting western traditions and elevating feminist themes to the fore while transcending any sense of gender based posturing by making her film as artfully and classically crafted as any western in recent memory. (more…)

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