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Gert van den Bergh,
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In the early 1800's, a group of fur trappers and Indian traders are returning with their goods to civilisation and are making a desperate attempt to beat the oncoming winter. When guide Zachary Bass is injured in a bear attack, they decide he's a goner and leave him behind to die. When he recovers instead, he swears revenge on them and tracks them and their paranoiac expedition leader down. Written by
Savage and unrelenting, but, compassionate and immensely rewarding tale of a fur trapper, near-fatally mauled by a bear, surviving to exact revenge upon those who left him for dead. A distant and withdrawn character, Zachary Bass (Harris), who through a series of ordeals, recalls both the tumultuous and neglected events in his life that he is now compelled to resurrect. His quest is both a harrowing and moving experience, with a sincere, thoughtful performance by the late Richard Harris.
"Man in the Wilderness" boasts breathtaking scenery, a memorable score, and supporting performances played with conviction, particularly by John Huston and Percy Herbert. While it might draw parallels with Harris' "Horse" trilogy, this role is a more complex characterisation, developed without the benefit of dialogue, but through actions, expressions and emotions.
I've read reviews of this film that claim that the movie is uninvolving and gratuitously violent, but nothing, in my opinion, could be further from the truth. If ever there was a character with whom you could empathise, and follow to a poignant (and satisfying) conclusion, Zachary Bass is that character. A metaphoric journey from his own personal "wilderness" to a state of self consciousness in both his existence, and purpose. If ever there was a movie that could depict the challenges that he would face, and intertwine them with the complex motivations for his desire to survive, "Man in the Wilderness" is that movie. A rare gem.
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