5.1/10
997
26 user 5 critic

The Donner Party (2009)

R | | Drama | 23 October 2009 (USA)
Trailer
1:04 | Trailer
Based on the real events of The Donner Party tragedy. The Donner Party was a group of California-bound American settlers caught up in the western expansion of the 1840s. After becoming ... See full summary »

Director:

Terrence Martin (as TJ Martin)

Writer:

Terrence Martin (as TJ Martin)
Reviews

Videos

Photos

Edit

Cast

Cast overview:
Crispin Glover ... William Foster
Clayne Crawford ... William Eddy
Michele Santopietro ... Amanda McCutchen
Mark Boone Junior ... Franklin Graves
Christian Kane ... Charles Stanton
Crispian Belfrage ... Patrick Dolan
Catherine Black ... Ann Fosdick
Jamie Anne Allman ... Eleanor Eddy
Jack Kyle ... Milt McCutchen
Cary Wayne Moore ... Jay Fosdick
Alison Haislip ... Mary Graves
Mara LaFontaine Mara LaFontaine ... Sarah Foster
John A. Lorenz ... Luis
Edit

Storyline

Based on the real events of The Donner Party tragedy. The Donner Party was a group of California-bound American settlers caught up in the western expansion of the 1840s. After becoming snowbound in the Sierra Nevada during the winter of 1846-1847, a number of the trapped settlers joined together in a final effort to reach California and organize a rescue party. Written by Anacapa Entertainment

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Survival Lies Within

Genres:

Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for some violence

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
Edit

Did You Know?

Goofs

After Fosdick dies and his wife won't let him be eaten, his chest moves as he breathes. See more »

Crazy Credits

The last two minutes of credits are accompanied only by the sound of a strong wind. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Zombies: A Living History (2011) See more »

User Reviews

 
Desperate Circumstances Call For Desperate Measures
28 September 2011 | by sddavis63See all my reviews

Not being by any means an expert on the story of the Donner Party, I've nevertheless done some reading on the subject. It's one of the truly tragic stories of American history that should probably be better known than it is. I stumbled upon this movie quite by chance and decided to give it a go. The criticisms that I've read of it are - strangely - both accurate and unfair. It's true that there were some liberties taken with the story. This is by no means a documentary about this incident. If that's what you want, there are books and documentaries to be consulted. This is Hollywood entertainment - and apparently low budget entertainment as well. The film-makers had to deal with some significant production issues. Given some of the challenges they faced, I thought this turned out to be a workable movie that will hopefully whet the appetite of viewers for more information about this rather famous incident in American history. Yes, I know that some will see this and assume that because they've seen it they know everything about the subject. That's unfortunate, but it doesn't take away the fact that in general terms this portrayal of the story worked fairly well.

Some criticize it for not being "interesting" enough. I'm not sure what those critics wanted. The liberties that were taken were done to inject a spark into the movie, and the movie is already criticized for doing that. This is a movie about desperate people facing desperate circumstances. It's not an action-thriller. It depicts the plight of the travellers. Some criticize it for a lack of character development. The funny thing is that's something I liked about this. I suppose an extra 30-60 minutes could have been added on to this to show the group gathering in Independence, Missouri and getting to know each other and travelling happily across the plains. Now that would have been dull. Instead, we pick up the party already in desperate circumstances. Perhaps the struggle of the trek through the Great Salt Desert would have been interesting. Aside from that (and it would have been difficult to jump from that to the point at which the movie actually started, and cumbersome to include the intervening time) I was happy enough with the story. It's true that perhaps the lack of character development meant we had little emotional connection to the characters, but the story was about the group and its plight and what it finally drove them to, not about the individuals.

The material about cannibalism was, I thought, handled sensitively. It's often over-emphasized and sensationalized in tales about the Donner Party, almost as if there was a cannibalistic feeding frenzy that went on among them. In fact, it was a desperate, last resort when there was literally no other source of food. In that sense, this is a bit reminiscent of the movie "Alive" which also dealt with the issue of cannibalism in desperate circumstances, although "Alive" had a much more spiritual sense to it.

Basically, I thought this was well done. (7/10)


12 of 17 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 26 user reviews »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.
Edit

Details

Official Sites:

Official site

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

23 October 2009 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Forlorn See more »

Filming Locations:

Donner Pass, California, USA See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »

Contribute to This Page



Recently Viewed