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.
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
Liver Eatin' Johnston's wife (who was pregnant at the time) was actually killed by a random raiding party of Blackfeet, not as revenge for a violation of their burial grounds. She was killed in the spring while Johnston was off trapping and he didn't return to find her body until several months later. He identified the band that had killed her because he recognized a Tennessee rifle he had given her in the possession of a Blackfeet warrior. Also, rather than isolated incidents as shown in the movie, Johnston often recruited other mountain men as well as Indians (particularly Flatheads) to help him with his vendetta. The part about the warriors sent to kill him and told not to return without his scalp was true. See more »
When Jeremiah Johnson first finds Hatchet Jack's frozen body holding the .50 caliber Hawkens, the gun is held with the barrel tilted slightly upward. In subsequent shots, the angle of the rifle barrel changes several times to slightly different downward- or upward-tilting angles, never the same twice. 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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A film which is glibly categorized as a `western' but goes somewhat deeper than that. The Pollack/Redford combination works well, and the photography of those magnificent mountains of Utah is spectacular. With all that beautiful scenery in Montana, Nevada, Colorado, Utah, I am surprised that the US government never does very much for saving it and cleaning up all that contamination ..
Thirty years on and after several viewings, I find this story grows on you, like the aging of fine wine in oak casks, such that another recent viewing gave me as much if not more pleasure. Precisely because it is not the standard `western' formula. One gets a little tired of John Wayne getting saddle-sore, killing indians and wooing women; at times watching `Jeremiah Johnson' I cannot help comparing a little with `Dances with Wolves' (qv), not because of any story similarity but more from certain situations being played out.
Robert Redford has given us numerous films in which his characterization is pretty good in general, but in this film I rather fancy he was inspired, even to the point of throwing off that silly category so beloved of those suffering Hollywooditis. Most notable in `The Sting' (qv), `All the President's Men', `Out of Africa', and `A River Runs Through it', without forgetting his excellent directing of `Ordinary People', one of the best true-life dramas I have seen.
`Jeremiah Johnson' is now one of the classics of the genre and even of cinema as a whole: always worth another viewing.
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