Jeremiah Johnson (1972) Poster


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  • Disillusioned Mexican War veteran Jeremiah Johnson (Robert Redford) decides to leave civilization and become a mountain man in the Rocky Mountains. Taught to live on the mountain by veteran mountain man Bear Claw (Will Geer), Jeremiah encounters grizzlies, hostile and friendly Indians, fights wolves, takes a squaw (Delle Bolton), adopts a son (Josh Albee), and becomes a legend. Edit (Coming Soon)

  • Two books, actually. The character, Jeremiah Johnson, is said to have been based on a legendary mountain man, John "Liver-Eating" Johnson [c.1824-1900], as presented in the 1958 biography Crow Killer: The Saga of Liver-Eating Johnson by Raymond Thorp and Robert Bunker. Vardis Fisher's Mountain Man (1965) was also adapted for the movie by screenwriters John Milius and Edward Anhalt. Edit (Coming Soon)

  • No particular year is pin-pointed in the movie. It might be assumed that the story begins in the late 1840s, since the narrator explains that Jeremiah fought in the Mexican War [1846-1848], and he was still wearing his cavalry pants when he went into the mountains. This interpretation is further borne out when the cavalry comes to ask for Jeremiah's help leading them through the passageway to the stranded settlers. Jeremiah asks Lieutenant Mulvey (Jack Colvin) how the war against Mexico is going, and he is told that it is over. If Jeremiah had gone into the mountains any time after 1848, he would already have known that. It's been pointed out by some viewers, however, that the song being sung by the crazy woman wasn't written until 1864, fully 14 years later. Most likely, the use of this song is a film-related anachronism. Edit (Coming Soon)

  • Bear Claw had explained that they were on Crow land and that the Crow would consider them trespassers and take their horses and guns unless they were offered a bribe. Bear Claw offered him some bear claws, but Paints His Shirt Red (Joaquín Martínez) said he had enough of them, so Jeremiah offered his pelts. Edit (Coming Soon)

  • Jeremiah and the crazy woman (Allyn Ann McLerie) sing Shall We Gather at the River, words and music written by Ro­bert Low­ry in 1864; first published in 1865. For more information about this hymn, see here. Edit (Coming Soon)

  • Del Gue (Stefan Gierasch) says that it was the Blackfoot Indians. Edit (Coming Soon)

  • The scalps that Del hangs on Jeremiah's saddle are Blackfoot scalps, most likely the same Blackfoot Indians that buried Del in the sand. We know this for two reasons: (1) Jeremiah says to Del, when they come upon the three sleeping Indians, "I have no truck [problems] with those Blackfeet and I plan to spend a lot of time up here and I don't want to start something with them now", and (2) when they later come upon the Flatheads, the ponies are recognized as being Blackfoot ponies probably because of the saddle and adornments. The Blackfoot Indians were the mortal enemies of the Flatheads, so the Flatheads would have been very appreciative of "Jeremiah" for having scalped Blackfoot Indians. Edit (Coming Soon)

  • It's possible, but it's even more likely that he recognized the blue tassels and material just added to the skeletons on the raised graves. They were taken from Swan's backpack, which you can see dumped on the ground as Jeremiah rushes into his cabin. You can also see, just before Jeremiah realizes what the blue grave decorations mean, his eyes suddenly flashing a brilliant blue reflection to hint at what he is seeing and realizing. The backpack can be seen in several scenes prior to Jeremiah's trek through the burial ground. It's there at the feet of Swan's bridesmaids at her wedding to Jeremiah, and the blue tassels can be seen decorating her leggings as they leave the Flathead Village just after the wedding. The backpack is there in the scene when Jeremiah dumps the scrawny rabbit into the pot (he sits by the backpack), and it's there again when he and Swan are eating lunch during the building of the cabin. Edit (Coming Soon)

  • It looks that way. When Jeremiah enters his cabin after the massacre, one of Paints His Shirt Red's arrows can be seen stuck in the door frame (look for the red band around the shaft of the arrow). Earlier in the movie, in the scene where Jeremiah gives Paints His Shirt Red a couple of hides for passage through Crow land, Bear Claw stated that the arrow with the red band belongs to Paint His Shirt Red (when an arrow strikes the tree trunk). This implies that Paints His Shirt Red was one of the Crow that killed Swan and Caleb. Edit (Coming Soon)

  • Three possible reasons have been suggested: (1) because the Indian ran, and there can be no worse shame for a Crow who would abandon his party when they are under attack, (2) because Jeremiah wanted him to return to his tribe and tell them what happened, i.e., that Jeremiah Johnson slaughtered the entire raiding party, and (3) the Indian brave reminded him of Swan. Edit (Coming Soon)

  • The movie doesn't say what happened to the Crazy Woman, other than the settler telling Jeremiah that she's dead and buried in one of those mounds. Almost anything—suicide, disease, starvation, the cold—might have taken her, but it's doubtful that the Indians killed her. Del tells Jeremiah that the Flatheads consider her to be "big medicine," and Jeremiah himself assures her that the Indians would not bother her again because she is "touched". Incidentally, Crazy Woman was a real person. The Crazy Mountains of central Montana were named by the Crow Indians in "honor" of her. Edit (Coming Soon)

  • After being hunted by the Crow, who come for him one at a time, he runs into Del Gue. Del has grown his hair back, having made the decision that he wants to leave something behind when he departs from this world—even if it's just on someone's lodgepole. Del suggests that Jeremiah go down into the town, but Jeremiah says that he's already done that. After being wounded in his side by another Crow's lance, he moves on, ending up at the Crazy Woman's house. She is dead, and the house is now being lived in by a settler and his family. In the yard, Jeremiah sees what looks like his grave, but the settler says that it's more like a monument to him. Indians come during the night, never being seen, but he knows they've been there by the new items like feathers or bits of bone that weren't there the day before. Jeremiah warns the settler that hiding his wife and kids in the corn crib won't stop the Indians. Then he moves on again. He meets up with Bear Claw who tells him that an avalanche took his cabin, so he has moved higher in the mountains in order to hunt for griz. Bear Claw congratulates Jeremiah for keeping his hair when so many are after it. In the final scene, Jeremiah is riding his horse through a snowstorm. He comes upon yet another lone Crow. As he reaches for his gun, he sees that it is Paints His Shirt Red. Instead of pulling out his gun, Paints His Shirt Red holds out his arm, his palm turned to face Jeremiah. Jeremiah does the same. They both ride on. Edit (Coming Soon)

  • Holding up your strong arm with the palm facing the person you are meeting is a form of greeting. It shows that you are not hiding anything in your hand. It signifies peace, which is how most viewers interpret that scene. Paints His Shirt Red seemed to be telling Jeremiah that his fight with the Crows was over. The fact that he is not wearing war paint is another indication that his intentions are not hostile. When Jeremiah returned the gesture, he was doing the same. Edit (Coming Soon)

  • Tim McIntire sings the theme song. McIntire co-wrote the score with John Rubinstein. Edit (Coming Soon)

  • The Legend of Jeremiah Johnson is sung at three points throughout the movie:

    Beginning: Jeremiah Johnson made his way into the mountains, bettin' on forgettin' all the troubles that he knew. / The trail was wide and narrow, and the eagle or the sparrow showed the path he was to follow as it flew. / A mountain man's a lonely man and he leaves a life behind. / It ought to have been different but you oftentimes will find / That the story doesn't always go the way you had in mind. / Jeremiah's story was that kind ...Jeremiah's story was that kind.

    Middle: The way that you wander is the way that you choose. / the day that you tarry is the day that you lose. / Sunshine or thunder, a man will always wonder where the fair wind blows...where the fair wind blows.

    Ending: An Indian says you search in vain for what you cannot find. / He says you've found a thousand ways of runnin' down your time. / An Indian didn't scream it; he said it in a song / And he's never been know to be wrong...he's never been known to be wrong...The way that you wander is the way that you choose. / The day that you tarry is the day that you lose. / Sunshine or thunder, a man will always wonder where the fair wind blows ...where the fair wind blows. Edit (Coming Soon)

  • For the Restored Version; the Overture, Intermission and Entr'acte were reinserted into the movie. Edit (Coming Soon)


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