The year is 1845, the earliest days of the Oregon Trail, and a wagon team of three families has hired the mountain man Stephen Meek to guide them over the Cascade Mountains. Claiming to know a short cut, Meek leads the group on an unmarked path across the high plain desert, only to become lost in the dry rock and sage. Over the coming days, the emigrants must face the scourges of hunger, thirst and their own lack of faith in each other's instincts for survival. When a Native American wanderer crosses their path, the emigrants are torn between their trust in a guide who has proven himself unreliable and a man who has always been seen as the natural enemy. Written by
Loosely based on a true incident involving trail guide Stephen Meek and a band of settlers in 1845. See more »
In an early scene with the three women walking, there was abundant Russian thistle on the ground. The film was set in 1845, but Russian thistle (Salsola tragus) wasn't introduced to the United States until arriving in South Dakota in 1870 or 1874, as weed seed in flaxseed imported from Russia. See more »
[reading from Genesis]
In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return. And Adam called his wife's name Eve, because she was the mother of all living.
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It is interesting reading all of these angry people here, who seem to appreciate having seen an amazing film but don't understand why it does not have a 'three act structure' or Hero's journey. If you are a fan of early Michael Haneke or even Tarkovsky (to a lesser extent), then you will like this film. It is a very gentle observational piece which takes its time to even let you hear human voices. It wants you to feel the wind on the scrub desert or to hear the bubbling of the river.
To make a film like that, especially in America where the audience is weened on cleanly prepared stories that have beginnings, middles and ends, is brave, stubborn and amazingly lucky that Kelly Reichardt was able to raise the money to make it.
Fantastic. Unique, Beautiful.
But just do not expect to be 'told' what happens next, because nothing massively important actually does. Just like life really.
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