Monday, January 16, 2012

Meek's Cutoff

I have sometimes thought that it would be cool to be a pioneer to a new territory.  The pre-Colonial Europeans who came to America to settle in a new world, the American pioneers who headed west to largely unknown, certainly untamed lands in hopes of establishing a new life, those are heroes in many ways.  Meek's Cutoff might portray some of those heroes, but not in a way that makes me wish I could have followed their path.

Under the leadership of hired guide Stephen Meek, three families heading west to start a new life get seriously lost.  Meek thought he knew a shortcut off the Oregon Trail.  Tensions run high, the men wonder if Meek is lost or just leading them astray, and an Indian they capture doesn't seem to be any more reliable.  Of course, they can't talk to him, since none of them know the Indian's language.  The stark, high-desert landscape is beautiful, but desolate, and very, very dry.  If they don't find water soon, they may perish out there. . . .
It's a long walk to Oregon.
For a sense of what these early pioneers went through to settle the West, Meek's Crossing, which is based on true events, tells a pretty good story.  But it also does something that drives me crazy in a movie: it just stops.  Call me simple-minded, but I prefer a bit of resolution.  However, the acting is good, the slow-building tension is palpable, and the historical and geographical setting draws you in.

Bottom line, 2 1/2 stars.

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