This is a blog which primarily gives some attention to movies that I find were overlooked (for whatever reason) or are simply underrated. I also comment on other, mainly movie-related issues as well. I welcome any suggestions for films to be added to this distinguished list.

One word of warning: The films listed below contain spoilers, so caution during reading is required.

Monday, November 11, 2013

I Will Fight No More Forever (1975)

"You have had your revenge. Now the whites will have theirs!"
-Chief Joseph.

Once The Lone Ranger (2013) bombed big time, I heard some say that it may be quite a while before we see westerns on the big screen again. I certainly hope that the wait won't be long, but both Ranger's quality & Johnny Depp's hilarious assertion that it was film critics which kept the film from being successful make the stance that westerns are box office poison again somewhat understandable.
One of the criticisms against Ranger was Depp's portrayal of Tonto (I must confess, my first thought upon seeing stills of Depp in the film was that they overdid the war paint, but that turned out to be the least of the movie's problems). Some said it was no less racist that other Native American portrayals in previous westerns.
There are other films, though, have portrayed them in a more noble light, and one of the best examples of that is this TV movie which depicts the efforts of the Nez Perce tribe to avoid forced relocation in 1877. President Grant ordered Gen. Oliver Howard (James Whitmore) to force the tribe from its home on the Idaho-Oregon border and onto a reservation in what is now Oklahoma. Despite the non-violent pleas of Howard and his right hand Capt. Wood (Sam Elliott), tension increases between their soldiers and some of the Nez Perce. The resulting bloodshed leads to the tribe's Chief Joseph (Ned Romero) to head for Canada with his tribe.
Joseph surrendered after a 108-day journey of over 1,700 miles, giving his speech:
"from where the sun now stands, I will fight no more forever."
This episode led to admiration for the tribe and Joseph from many white people as word of Joseph's eloquent, non-violent surrender spread.
This movie, which would earn Emmy nominations for its writing and editing, makes it easy for us to side with the Nez Perce, with Romero perfect casting as Joseph. But Whitmore and Elliott are equally good because they are not the bloodthirsty, anti-Indian white men you might expect. Howard is already acquainted with Joseph when the movie begins and he tells Joseph that he does not wish to use force to relocate them. He also tells Wood that it is indeed wrong to relocate the tribe, but Howard does his duty because he knows that Grant will simply assign the unenviable task to another General if Howard does not comply. Wood, likewise, does his duty but is not unsympathetic to the Nez Perce either. One could say that they become as helpless as Joseph.
Hence, this story illustrates how people are forced into conflict but can still treat each other honorably.

No comments:

Post a Comment