A mountain man who wishes to live the life of a hermit becomes the unwilling object of a long vendetta by Indians, and proves to be a match for their warriors in one-on-one combat on the early frontier.
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During the mid-nineteenth century, Jeremiah Johnson, after a stint in the US Army, decides that he would prefer a life of solitude and more importantly peace by living with nature in the mountains of the frontier of the American west. This plan entails finding a piece of land upon which to build a house. This quest ends up being not quite what he envisioned as he does require the assistance of others to find his footing, and in turn he amasses friends and acquaintances along the way, some who become more a part of his life than he would have imagined. Perhaps most importantly, some of those people provide him with the knowledge of how to co-exist with some of the many Indian tribes, most importantly the Crow, on whose land in Colorado Jeremiah ultimately decides to build his home. But an act by Jeremiah upon a request by the US Cavalry leads to a chain of events that may forever change the peaceful relationship he worked so hard to achieve with his neighbors and their land. Written by
The picture was based on two published sources, the non-fiction "Crow Killer: The Saga of Liver-Eating Johnson" by Raymond W. Thorp & Robert Bunker (1958) and the literary "Mountain Man: A Novel of Male and Female in the Early American West' (1965) by Vardis Fisher. The film was made and released about fourteen years after the first and seven years after the latter. See more »
The Crow, Blackfoot and Flathead Indian tribes were up around what later became Montana. The Colorado territory, where Johnson is supposed to be, had the Arapaho and the Cheyenne. See more »
His name was Jeremiah Johnson, and they say he wanted to be a mountain man. The story goes that he was a man of proper wit and adventurous spirit, suited to the mountains. Nobody knows whereabouts he come from and don't seem to matter much. He was a young man and ghosty stories about the tall hills didn't scare him none. He was looking for a Hawken gun, .50 caliber or better. He settled for a .30, but damn, it was a genuine Hawken, and you couldn't go no better. Bought him a good ...
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Jeremiah Johnson is a starkly simple story well told. It is the journey of a man who seeks to re-make himself. Johnson becomes disillusioned, like Thoreau and even Ulysses S. Grant, by the Mexican War and deserts to become a mountain man. There he finds the Rockies starkly beautiful and completely without mercy for him or anyone else. Will Geer plays the older trapper who teaches the 'Pilgrim,' a very solid performance by Redford, how to survive. The film's treatments of Whites and Native Americans is profoundly even handed, and Milious's fingerprints are noteworthy in the robust and calculated course of the narrative.
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