Jeremiah Johnson (1972)
Jeremiah Johnson is an overlooked northern western that tells the story of a man who leaves behind one society for a simpler life, but soon finds that simple definitely does not equate to easy. Johnson is played by Robert Redford in a role that he absolutely owns from beginning to end. This is one of the films I use a bench mark whenever I reference any other film of the same genre being “beautifully photographed” or having superb cinematography. Jeremiah Johnson creates a world and a landscape all its own and makes you feel like you are right there with him hunting bears in the 19th century mountainous terrains of the American west. The movie is based on a novel called Mountain Man, which was based on a short story called “Crow Killer” which is alleged to have been a true story to some extent. In the movie, as in the story, the Johnson character slowly builds a life for himself out in the middle of nowhere and takes an Indian wife, and together they have a child. I won’t spoil what happens to them but I probably don’t have to. Nevertheless Johnson’s life has a couple of epochs, the training period under his mentor played by Will Greer, the aforementioned marriage and family period, and a final period of all consuming violence, without which, he probably would not have had a movie made about him. This movie is kind of like the Dances with Wolves of its time, only not nearly as politically correct, but still an equally important and breathtaking film. It is the favorite film of “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, and I will let that recommendation be the bottom line for this review.