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
It took around three months to cast the major female role of "The Swan" (aka "Swan"), the indigenous American Indian wife character of Robert Redford. See more »
The rescue party tells Johnson they have been watched all the way from the Gila River. The Gila is 400 miles south of the Colorado border. 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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Sydney Pollack's return to the western four years after THE SCALPHUNTERS was to be a completely different experience. Following the trials and tribulations of a deserter of the Mexican War who disappears in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado to become a mountain man, JEREMIAH JOHNSON eschews the conventions of the western as a genre in such a way as was only made possible for American cinema in the tumultuous era of early 70's with such visceral movies of frontier survival as MAN IN THE WILDERNESS and A MAN CALLED HORSE paving the way.
As Jeremiah Johnson (Robert Redford) wanders the mountains like a fugitive stricken by disaster, a solitary figure against awe-inspiring backdrops of massive rock formations, steep ravines and expansive mesas, you can tangibly feel the film, like the hero, transcending the specific time and place and breaching out vision to become an all-encompassing spiritual journey where the individual characters - fur trappers, bear hunters or Indians - are merely the unwitting parners in a dance of death.
Some viewers may be put off by the lack of straight-forward plot, the episodic, repetitive nature of the movie or the long stretches of silence, but it's from those exact things the movie takes its power. JJ comes unto its own in those small moments of quietude, in Johnson's silent encounters with indians, in the barren, unforgiving wastes of the craggy mountains that reflect so well the psychology of characters wandering in their shadow, in the subtle, heartwarming interactions Johnson has with the Indian woman he's taken for a wife and the mute boy he's taken for a son. There's hardly a word uttered between this peculiar family the entire movie but the ways they learn to overcome the barriers that separate them is a touching sight to behold.
There is some dated montage, a corny soundtrack; how much of this will affect your enjoyment will boil down to your affinity with how cinema was in the 70's. Still, what is left is this beautiful parable of broken humans learning to be whole again. Equal parts visceral, savage and heartwarming.
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