"Lost in the Sagebrush: Bizarre, Cryptic Leftist Allegory"
What You Need To Know:
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!!!
(RoRoRo, PCPCPC, RHRHRH, FeFeFe, APAP, C, B, L, V, N, D, MM) Very strong (but cryptic and hard-to-interpret without background knowledge) Romantic, politically correct, revisionist, feminist view of the Wild West, American history and American/European culture, which is meant to be an allegory of America’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the War on Terror where one character representing President George Bush leads people astray, but there are some references to Christian faith, prayer and reading the Bible, but the one biblical passage clearly read is the Genesis story about how God cast Adam and Eve out of the Garden of Eden, so that passage can be fit into the movie’s feminist, politically correct worldview, even though the movie is not specifically an Anti-Christian screed; four obscenities, one light profanity and two “God knows,” which seem borderline, plus one use of the “n” word; brief violence and threats of violence, including unoccupied wagon rolls down hill and crashes and woman fires rifle to give a signal, but nothing strong; no sexual content; upper male nudity regarding an American Indian; no alcohol use; brief smoking; and, possible betrayal, racism, exaggeration, the most racist character wants to kill an American Indian or torture him, and character says Man and Woman represent Chaos (Woman) and Destruction (Man).
MEEK’S CUTOFF is a very slow-moving, elitist western about a small group of pioneers lost in the sagebrush, looking for a mountain pass into Oregon. The slow pace doesn’t serve the story well, and neither does the sudden, pretentious Lady or the Tiger ending that leaves viewers hanging.
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?