The story of Jeb Stuart, his romance with Kit Carson Holliday, friendship with George Custer and battles against John Brown in the days leading up to the outbreak of the American Civil War. Written by
Col Needham <email@example.com>
John Brown did not wear a beard while in Kansas, but rather years later. See more »
Kit Carson Holliday:
Jeb, I'm frightened. That boy is crippled for life. And that man on the train, he died for a principle. A man killed for a principle. One of them is wrong, but which one?
James Ewell Brown 'Jeb' Stuart:
Who knows the answer to that, Kit. Everybody in America is trying to decide.
Kit Carson Holliday:
Yes, by words from the east, and by guns from the west. But one day, the words will turn into guns.
See more »
A powerful movie too interested in the truth to take sides.
"Santa Fe Trail" is like the doubloon nailed to the mainmast in the novel "Moby Dick": how you interpret it depends on your point of view. Some viewers will see it as a tribute to the chivalrous values of the pre-civil war military establishment, which was dominated by southern aristocrats like General Robert E. Lee, while others may see it mainly as the tragic saga of the anti-slavery martyrs of Harper's Ferry, whose self-sacrifice brought on the war to free the slaves. Cavalry officer Jeb Stuart seems either gallant and nobly courageous, or like a pompous martinet, while abolitionist John Brown is a violence loving madman, or one of the most dedicated and selfless heroes of all time. This exciting, action-packed movie refuses to take sides but permits the viewer to make his own decisions about the important themes presented.
What about its use of history, though, which has vexed so many critics? Like any great mythopoeic work, "Santa Fe Trail" should be judged not as historical record but as a legend or myth that tells universal truths. Historicism, which in movie criticism is the theory that all works should be judged by the standard of recorded history, has not enjoyed much favor among the most respected experts on the subject of art. Were this not so, the "Iliad," "Macbeth" and "The Adventures of Robin Hood" would long ago have been rejected as false history, because not one of them is faithful to many of the known facts deemed so important by historicist critics.
Judged on its own terms and from the perspective of facts that have proved true not just in one place and time but in many places and in many periods of history, then "Santa Fe Trail" is a classic in the best sense, and thrilling entertainment too. Like all war movies that are any good, it is a powerful anti-war movie.
29 of 47 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?