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August 26, 2012 in Western | Permalink


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I do think that the dialogue could have been better and perhaps a better sense of forward momentum provided through better film editing and direction. I also think a French woman was a bad casting choice for Emma Watson. To hear Hubert swearing like a contemporary French prostitute does not enhance the feeling of authenticity. The cinematography is beautiful, the soundtract is equally sublime. But the issue here is not about race, it is about class. Your opinion of it being about race is incorrect, although rather standard in the PC requirements of interpretive dialogues these days. It MIGHT be about immigration, but it is really about class and American Capitalism in general. It was a film sympathetic to socialism. A review of 19th century history of Socialism would inform that this was a hot topic; the Army had to be called out to put down a Socialist rebellion in Wisconsin in 1888, for example. This film rather takes some Wisconsin settlers and plops them into Johnson County to enhance the historical reality of 1890. I think this was rather clever.

Because of the controversy around this film, I acquired a copy of A.E. Mercer's "The Banditti of the Plains" and found it fascinating. Although Cimino moved events and characters around, as he had to make Averil and Watson remain alive to the end of the "war" to make a story at all, and the "battle" is hugely exaggerated, the corruption of government and the abuse of the press nationwide by special interests provides a look at what was the first big government cover-up of a really dark nature in American history. Many Westerns have been made in the past that borrow on the theme of the cattle barons vs the poor, but Heaven's Gate' actually was and remains the only film that got even a little close to the historical actuality. The only racial note to this "war" was that the government posted "Buffalo Soldiers" in the town and county to humiliate the white populace after the battle at the KC ranch and the intervention of the cavalry. And Nate Champion did die in a fired cabin and wrote a note exactly worded as in the film. There used to be a folk song about Nate Champion for years after the event.

I respectfully suggest that you acquire and read "Banditti of the Plains" because I am sure you will find it fascinating as I did. It may even cause a re-editing of your review here.

Posted by: Marc | Jun 8, 2013 7:29:06 PM

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