Jeremiah JohnsonDirector: Sydney Pollack
Years before Kevin Costner danced with wolves, Robert Redford headed to the mountains to escape civilization in Sydney Pollack's wilderness western. Around 1850, ex-soldier Johnson (Redford) decides that he would rather live alone as a mountain man in Colorado than deal with society's constraints. After a series of setbacks, he meets grizzled mountain veteran Bear Claws (Will Geer), who teaches him how to survive. Jeremiah strives to live as peaceably as possible in the rugged environment, trading with the native Crow tribe, adopting a boy (Josh Albee) after his family is massacred, and even marrying the daughter (Delle Bolton) of a Flathead chief in order to avoid confrontation. He settles into a mountain home with his family, but the U.S. cavalry, complete with a puritanical Reverend, interrupt the idyll to compel Jeremiah to lead them over the mountains and through a Crow burial ground to rescue white settlers. After the Crow kill his family in retaliation, Jeremiah's frenzied moment of payback precipitates a long-running vendetta, turning him into a legendary Indian killer at the expense of his original ideals, on the way to a final moment of grace. Spectacularly shot on location in Utah, the film captures both the appeal and the challenge of the landscape that Jeremiah chooses over civilization. With an unglamorous performance by Redford and a story that questioned white colonialism while mythologizing the man of nature, Jeremiah Johnson appealed to its 1972 audience and became one of the biggest hits of the year. Wavering between heroicizing Jeremiah for surviving and damning him for killing, Jeremiah Johnson took its place among the Vietnam-era cycle of critical westerns, like Arthur Penn's Little Big Man (1970) and Robert Altman's McCabe and Mrs. Miller (1971), that condemned civilization for corrupting the wilderness and preventing individuals from going pacifistically native.
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- Warner Home Video
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Cast & Crew
|Robert Redford||Jeremiah Johnson|
|Will Geer||Bear Claws|
|Stefan Gierasch||Del Gue|
|Allyn Ann McLerie||Crazy Woman|
|Joaquin Martinez||Paints His Shirt Red|
|Jack Colvin||Lieutenant Mulvey|
|Edward S. Haworth||Production Designer|
|Gary D. Liddiard||Makeup|
|Tim McIntire||Score Composer|
|Ray Molyneaux||Set Decoration/Design|
|John Rubinstein||Score Composer|
|Thomas G. Stanford||Editor|
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Few western genres have adequately portrayed what drove people to become pioneers or trappers and what life was really like for them. This movie shows exactly what life was like for those brave trappers and early pioneers who decided to make the great move West. Redford plays a soldier who is fed up with the false trappings of civilized life; he decides to become a mountain man and move west. Brilliant cinematography captures the brutal elements of the untamed wilderness. The folk music adds to the flavor of the movie. This movie is a masterpiece and stands in its own league. It has no equal to compare with. If you like down to earth movies about the real West, this is definitely a movie to own.
My father and I used to watch the VHS tape of this fine film every Friday night for a number of years. He absolutely loves this movie and I can't say that I blame him. When my first son is born I will name him Kaleb as it "Is a name I have long admired" because my father won't let me name him after himself.
Jeremiah Johnson was the coolest Mountain Man that ever did exist or did not exist in this beautifully "escape from civilization" Western. In a time when we we were still getting reports of dead and missing GIs in Vietnam, Westerns for a time took an interesting and provocative turn against mainstream conservative society that they have served as propaganda for. This one was the most thought-provoking and entertaining by Syndney Pollack. Now, watch it Pilgrims!
The setting for this epic tale is circa 1830, as stated at the beginning of the movie, not 1850 as stated in a previous review. By 1850 the mountain men like Johnson, Bridger and Carson were largely being replaced by settlers and trapping was virtually over in favor of buffalo hunting. Although Colorado was the territory at the time of the movie the locations cited are actually in what is now Montana (the Judith River, Musselshell River etc.) This is an epic representation of early rural americana!
An oldschool classic
The scenery is breathtaking and the characters vivid. We'll watch this many more times and enjoy it just as much each time.