Cinemalphabet: J is for Jeremiah Johnson (1972)
Let’s get one thing out of the way: without the involvement of 70s hot Redford and my beloved Sydney Pollack, this movie was never going to happen for me. I kept shuffling it up my queue, getting so close to clicking play only to find something more pressing to do like laundry or decluttering my closet. There’s something about unflinching use of 70s Westerns as a lens to critically examine the Vietnam war that has always made me uncomfortable and perhaps that’s the point. There’s a troubling erasure of the complexities of white folk going off grid to live with Native folk. I think Jeremiah Johnson skirts the line, slipping on the wrong side in a couple of places and for me that does affect my overall experience of the film. It is a visually exciting, well crafted film, but it feels dated. Its commentary seems naive, given all we know in 2012, but ultimately because it’s Pollack and Redford it was worth at least one viewing.
Also, can we talk about that awesome beard?