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The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976)
At the beginning of this brilliant movie Josey Wales has a wife, a son and a small farm. Before the end of the opening credits he has only bitterness. With his family having been killed by union troops he joins a group of rebel guerrilla fighters; but the war is lost and his comrades plan to surrender so that they can go home to their families. Josey refuses to join them and then suffers the anguish of seeing his comrades betrayed and gunned down. He intervenes and kills many union soldiers before making his escape with one still living friend and then the story of the movie starts.
Even though he has little to live for Josey decides to head for Mexico and hopefully a life of peace but a $5000 bounty on his head ensures trouble all along the way. This huge reward along with tales of his exploits makes him a famous outlaw and a number of people try to take him in. This is where the movie shines for me. Through every confrontation Eastwoods character is impassive and unafraid but the demeanour of those attacking him is never so. To them he represents an incredibly dangerous escape from their desperate lives. The scenes of confrontation crackle with sweaty tension as trappers, farmers and bounty hunters take on this implacable, fearsome warrior for the small chance of living their dreams.
The scene in the trading post is typical as the spiteful, loathsome owner pleads for a share in the Wales bounty he thinks the trappers are going to get then hides in misery when Josey prevails.
but this is not a miserable movie. As the story progresses Josey acquires a new family. A chief, a squaw, some pilgrims and a red bone hound. They fall under his protection and in turn they save his soul.
The story comes full circle from peace and love at the very beginning, through adventure, violence, tragedy. humour and nobility, back to peace and love at the very end. I cannot recommend it highly enough; it also contains one of the best lines in movie history. "Dyin ain't much of a living boy".
A real event
In many ways Titanic is a great movie. The effects are realistic enough to let you get right into it and the performances are generally very good; especially the gorgeous Kate who convinces with, or without, her kit on. It is a story of an ill fated but grand love affair. An unhappy heiress falls for a lovely poor guy over the rich, handsome, total bastard she's engaged to and trouble inevitably follows. This epic story is played out against the backdrop of a ship sinking which adds to the emotion, poignancy, hysteria and general tearfulness of it all and therein lies my problem with this flick.
Before Titanic was a film it was a ship. Many real people died. Their families still remember. (yes even a century later), This movie is not a tribute or an insult. It is a disregarding of their memory. Jack and Rose could have had their moment in any one of a thousand scenarios. Why sully this tragic event?
The sinking of the Titanic is a great historical tragedy. Not only death, but needless death, plus the loss of a magnificent machine, which was a tribute to human endeavour and ingenuity. The folly of her reckless handling in dangerous waters ( That's the ship, not Kate). The stupidity of man's "unsinkable" challenge to nature. The struggle of the crew to save as many people (especially rich ones) as possible. What a great film that could be (they tried to make it in 1958). A story that respected every gasp for air, every self sacrifice, every bloody engineer. Why did we need Jack and Rose? Is this the price we pay for Hollywood.