Lost in the Sagebrush: Bizarre, Cryptic Leftist Allegory
Release Date: April 08, 2011
Starring: Michelle Williams, Bruce
Greenwood, Will Patton, Zoe
Kazin, Paul Dano. Shirley
Henderson, Neal Huff, Tommy
Nelson, Rod Rondeaux
Audience: Older teenagers and adults
Runtime: 104 minutes
Distributor: Oscilloscope Laboratories
Director: Kelly Reichardt
Executive Producer: Todd Haynes, Phil Morrison,
Rajen Savjani, Andrew Pope,
Steven Tuttleman, Laura
Rosenthal, Mike S. Ryan
Producer: Neil Kopp, Anish Savjani,
Elizabeth Cuthrell, David
Writer: Jon Raymond
Address Comments To:Adam Yauch
Oscilloscope Laboratories aka Oscilloscope Pictures
511 Canal Street, 5E
New York, NY 10013
Phone: (212) 219-4029; Fax: (212) 219-9538
The movie begins in the middle of the story. Three Conestoga wagons of pioneers are lost, because their mountain man guide, Stephen Meek, led them from the main line of the Oregon Trail, telling them he knew a shortcut through the Rocky Mountains. Now, both Meek and the pioneers are lost.
The movie slowly follows these characters, with very little dialogue except for the tall tales Meeks tells the young boy who’s the only child traveling with the pioneers (other than the unborn baby in the belly of one of the three pioneer wives). Then, the pioneers begin spotting a lone American Indian, and, eventually, Meek and the three men capture him but not his horse.
Meek favors killing the Indian outright, because his experience tells him that all Indians can’t be trusted. However, Solomon, the leader of the three pioneer families, convinces them that, maybe, the Indian knows where they can find water. So, the pioneers follow the Indian during the day and tie him up at night. Solomon’s wife tries to befriend the Indian, but the Indian turns out to be very inscrutable. Thus, the pioneers are completely adrift, caught between the loquacious, incompetent Meek and an Indian who can’t talk English and may be leading them to their destruction.
MEEK’S CUTOFF is a very, very slow movie, with little or no traditional turning points in the script. Even worse, the abrupt, infuriating ending leaves the ultimate fate of the pioneers up in the air and lets viewers decide whether or not the pioneers made a huge mistake in trusting the Indian. Of course, during all the days the pioneers follow the Indian, they find no water, so it definitely appears that the Indian was indeed completely untrustworthy.
So, the question arises: What in Heaven’s name is the meaning of this movie?
Well, since this silly movie offers no real clues, one can only refer to the movie’s production notes. So, guess what? According to the director and the production notes, MEEK’S CUTOFF is meant to be an allegory of America’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Thus, Meek represents a befuddled, dogmatic President George Bush and the Indian represents inscrutable Arabs, Muslims and Afghanis that Americans encounter in the War on Terror. Also, apparently, the debates over what to do with the Indian are supposed to represent the debates over whether to torture the Indian (or allegorical Muslim) to find out information, trust the Indian to help find water (or help win the War on Terror), or just kill the Indian and go forward under the leadership of Meek/Bush and/or Solomon.
In addition, according to the female director, she decided to turn the story into a monotonous journey because that’s what she read in the diaries of real pioneer women, who, she says, described wagon train journeys across the Wild West as a repetitious, laborious journey over an endless landscape. The director also says she focuses on the women in the story because “MEEK’S CUTOFF is told from the vantage point of those without power, from the people who don’t get a say in the decisions that are being made.” Here, the movie becomes not only a story about America’s current war against Islamic terrorism and the Anti-Semitic, Anti-Christian Muslim fanatics who created and foment it, but also a politically correct, revisionist feminist view of the Wild West and European/American society.
My word! Who would have thunk it?
The slow moving MEEK’S CUTOFF ends abruptly, leaving the ultimate fate of the pioneers up in the air. Also (though you wouldn’t know it from watching this monotonous tale), according to the movie’s production notes, MEEK’S CUTOFF is supposed to be a left-wing allegory about America’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Thus, Meek represents President George Bush, the pioneers represent American voters, and the Indian represents the Arabs, Muslims and Afghanis that America’s soldiers and leaders encounter. How bizarre!!!