In 19th-century New Mexico, a father (Tommy Lee Jones) comes back home, hoping to reconcile with his adult daughter Maggie (Cate Blanchett). Maggie's daughter is kidnapped, forcing father and estranged daughter to work together to get her back.Written by
When Kayitah is killed by multiple blows with the wooden club there is much blood and it is implied that he has been hit in the head. When "Kayitah's ghost" rides his horse, his face has just a little blood near the mouth. His head and face are clearly recognizable, rather than being completely disfigured from the blows to his head. See more »
Why didn't you stay?
There's an Apache story about a man that woke up one morning and saw a hawk on the wind. Walked outside and never returned. After he died he met his wife in the spirit world. She asked him why he never came home, he said "Well, the hawk kept flying".
There's always the next something, Maggie. And that will take a man away.
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Although the film was shot in the Super 35 process, the Full Screen DVD mostly version Pans and Scans as if it were shot in Anamorphic Widescreen instead of properly framing it for Full Frame as most Super 35 films are. Only a few shots in this movie were reframed properly. See more »
Maggie Gilkeson is a single mother working as a doctor in New Mexico. She is hardy and seemingly strong. When an old man with Indian looks shows up seeking treatment, she finds that he is her father, whom she has blamed for her mother's death when he abandoned them as a child. She rejects his attempts to apologise and sends him on his way. When an Indian raiding party kidnaps Maggie's eldest, Lily, she has to turn to Samuel for his ability to track them.
With so few westerns being released to our multiplexes it is important not to go crazy with hype when one is released. In the UK we will have this film and Open Range released within a few weeks of one another and nearly every review you read can't help but draw attention to that as if somehow the recent Westerns we've had are some sort of golden age. I watched this just as I watch any film of any genre, whether the western happens to be neglected recently or not. The plot here is basically the journey and Jones' attempts at a sort of redemption. The film is perhaps a touch long, but it still fills the running time well. The action stuff is good but it is also well complimented by the more emotional core. It isn't perfect of course, but it does well and makes for an engaging and entertaining film. Of the things I'd like to have seen gone, the whole black magic side of the film didn't work for me and gave the story a mysticism that I didn't think it actually needed.
The cast are very good though. Jones manages to actually play an unexplained white man who was `with the Indians' without it being unbearably laughable. He is a more interesting character than the writing would have done alone or with a lesser actor. Blanchett makes up for her dire work in LOTR with a gutsy performance that gradually transforms as the film goes. Schweig is a great baddie despite his low screentime. It is good that the PC brigade didn't mean that this character had to be twisted in keeping with the modern cliché that all Indians are moral and upright. Boyd is much better here than in that terrible Dickie Roberts thing. She does have to do a little too much screaming at times but generally is up to the task. Support from Kilmer, Clint Howard and others are welcome in support and there is not really a weak link in the cast.
Overall this is not a great western, and wouldn't really stand out in the genre. However it is one of the better films out in the cinema right now. It has a good central story with reasonably good characters and it is only the mystical stuff and some weaknesses in the script that stops it being better.
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