36 of 36 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Old style Epic
I watched this movie again having last watched it some 18 yrs ago as a kid, and wondered how it would stand the test of time? Well I was not disappointed, beautiful photography, solid performances a simple story with few words and dialogue, and the result is truly evocative movie, albeit idealising the a way of life in the 'Old West'. Redford gives a good...
Published on 23 Nov 2000 by Colin Mcwilliams
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Photography is not enough
This is a beautiful-looking film. The cameraman, Andrew (Duke) Callaghan, did a tremendous job in some breathtaking mountain locales, and it's no wonder Robert Redford moved to Utah after making the film. Alas, it's also no wonder that Warner Brothers sat on the film for a year before eventually releasing it in 1972, because, as a narrative, it's a mess, and mostly a...
Published 9 days ago by gustavus
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36 of 36 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Old style Epic,
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent understated film,
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The sparse script is brilliant in its simplicity, people's faces in the film convey their feelings silently but with a intensity that shines through. Especially between Redford and his flathead wife.
Atypically for a hollywood western, its quite traumatic in parts, there are no happy endings here, maybe a hint of hope at the end, but ultimately this is a realistic depiction of the harsh realities of frontier life, and a unique one, as far as I've never seen film like it.
Brilliant film in all, suprised it's not more widely known.
42 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "The day that you tarry is the day that you lose ...",
Based on Raymond Thorp/Robert Bunker's "Crow Killer" and Vardis Fisher's "Mountain Man" and scripted by John Milius and Edward Anhalt - with input from frequent Redford/Pollack cooperator David Rayfiel - Sydney Pollack's and Robert Redford's 1972 movie loosely traces the mythical hunter's legend, opening with his arrival at the fort where he buys his first horse and gun. "Ride due west as the sun sets. Turn left at the Rocky Mountains," is a trader's goodnatured answer to Johnson's naive inquiry where to find "bear, beaver and other critters worth cash money when skinned." But soon he finds that his lowland skills no longer do him any good, almost starving in the freezing mountainous winter before being taken in by old "griz" hunter Bear Claw Chris Lapp (Will Geer in a stand-out role - his and Redford's deadpan exchanges alone make this movie worth its price).
Setting out on his own again the following year Johnson fares better, even gaining the respect of a Crow warrior prosaically named Paints His Shirt Red (Joaquin Martinez), the first person he encountered in the mountains. After assisting a settler's wife who had to watch her family massacred by Indians (Allyn Ann McLerie) and reluctantly agreeing to take charge of her son (Josh Albee) - a boy grown mute by the horrors he witnessed, whom he names Caleb - he comes across white hunter Del Gue (Stefan Gierasch), buried up to his head in sand by a band of Blackfeet. Revenging that act unwittingly leaves Johnson with a wife, in exchange for bestowing the Blackfeet's ponies and guns on Flathead chief Two-Tongues-Lebeaux (Richard Angarola): the chief's daughter Swan (Delle Bolton). Although neither embraces the match enthusiastically, over time Jeremiah and Swan learn to appreciate and, eventually, love each other. But then fate strikes: Against better judgment pressured into guiding a cavalry company through Crow burial ground, Johnson finds Swan and Caleb murdered upon his return. He sets out after the Crow who invaded his home ... and plants the seeds of his myth.
"Jeremiah Johnson" was Redford's and Pollack's second of seven collaborations after 1966's "This Property is Condemned." What most obviously characterizes this movie is the breathtaking manner in which its cinematography uses Utah's mountains (doubling for the story's actual Montana setting): despite studio budgetary limits shot entirely on location, the film had Redford acting as a virtual tour guide to the magnificent Wasatch, which he had recently made his home himself.
But the movie also shows enormous restraint, particularly given its violent underlying story. There's no blood-gushing "Braveheart"-style, no dramatic score; fights are mostly one-on-one, occurring as they would in real life - silently, with only the opponents' grunts being heard - and despite his fearsome epithet we never actually see Johnson eat a dead Crow warrior's liver. (Reportedly a script change on which Redford insisted: wisely so.) Similarly, Johnson's and Swan's relationship builds on small symbolic gestures, moving from his coarse attempts to teach her English and refusal to learn her language to conversations in Salish (Flathead); and from her submissive expectation of his exercising his marital rights on their wedding night (which rather repulses him) to later-exchanged tender glances and smiles: Thus, we only learn about their marriage's belated consummation when one morning Swan points to his beard in response to his question about her reddish cheeks. - Further, there's no dramatic conclusion; no final battle: as Johnson's myth begins to grow and he withdraws deeper and deeper into the mountains, he retraces his steps and meets in reverse order the people he encountered after his arrival: Del Gue, the settler now living in Caleb's mother's cabin, Bear Claw Chris Lapp; and finally Paints His Shirt Red who, although a Crow, created a monument in Johnson's honor and sends him off with a last salute, which Johnson reciprocates; ending the movie in an immortalizing freeze-frame shot - again, a feature insisted on by Redford, doubtlessly reminiscent of "Butch and Sundance" (and repeated one way or another in several subsequent movies).
Despite its languid pace and although just under two hours long, "Jeremiah Johnson" formally takes an epic approach, complete with overture, entr'acte and narrator (uncredited, but I think Willie Nelson), whose subtle voiceovers and brief songs provide key narrative bridges. While the latter match the movie's overall style and the overture at least corresponds with Johnson's mythical stature - albeit also setting up ultimately unfulfilled expectations of a dramatic finale - adding an entr'acte may have been a bit much, particularly in the middle of the ride through the Crow burial ground (incidentally a screenplay addition designed to give the Indians a reason to punish Johnson and not make them appear as mindless killers). In my view this breaks the dramatic tension rather than enhancing it; problematic insofar as virtually all that remains thereafter is Johnson's gradual withdrawal into the mountains and fights with the Crow. But no matter. This is a terrific movie, featuring great banter with Johnson's fellow hunters as well as some wonderfully delicate scenes with Swan, showcasing some of North America's most dramatically beautiful scenery, and growing on you more and more the more often you watch it.
And some say he's up there still ...
"The way that you wander is the way that you choose. The day that you tarry is the day that you lose. Sunshine or thunder, a man will always wonder where the fair wind blows ..."
25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't shortcut through cemeteries,
This review is from: Jeremiah Johnson [VHS] (VHS Tape)Way back (1972) when a much younger Robert Redford worked more in front of the camera than behind it, he starred as JEREMIAH JOHNSON, a man disgusted with mid-1800's U.S. "civilization", who decides to drop out, and then tune-in to a purer life as a fur trapper in the Rocky Mountains.
Initially, Johnson epitomizes the term "tenderfoot", and would have starved on the job had he not been taken under the wing of a grizzled, experienced mountain man, Bear Claw, marvelously played by Will Geer. With new skills learned from his mentor, Jeremiah strikes out on his own. Along the way, he becomes encumbered with a "family" - a small white boy essentially orphaned by an Indian raid, and a native wife more or less forced on him by her brother, a friendly Flathead Indian chief. In time, he learns to love them both - an emotional investment for which he pays dearly after a band of Crow Indians retaliates for a major social faux pas that Johnson commits while helping an Army cavalry detachment rescue a party of snow-bound pioneers. From that point, revenge takes over on a tit for tat basis. The conclusion is perhaps a lesson for present-day enemies of long standing on how to end for both sides what is otherwise a no-win situation.
Filmed on location in the Rockies, JEREMIAH JOHNSON is a scenic and powerful contribution to the Western genre of filmmaking. It does particularly well in depicting the lonely solitude lived by the American mountain man of yore. Redford's portrayal of a regular guy just trying to get along and survive is beyond reproach. As a matter of fact, I think it's one of the better roles he's played in his career. Nowadays, when Westerns aren't as much in vogue as they used to be, perhaps the film is worth another look. Oh, and be circumspect when it comes to sauntering through graveyards.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining and historically accurate,
The director Sydney Pollack is better known for such films as "Out of Africa" and "The Way we Were". Certainly not for Westerns. Robert Redford and Pollack were regular collaborators. The film must have held great appeal for Redford given that it was shot on location in his beautiful adopted state of Utah. It is based on two stories. "Crow Killer" by Raymond Thorp/Robert Bunker and "Mountain Man" by Vardis Fisher. Fisher's book has been in print since 1965 and is possibly the best fictional account of these mens lives.
The film faithfully follows the life of one such man who leaves his home to escape into the wilderness. We follow his struggles to adapt to his harsh new environment. A place which is unforgiving of inexperience. But learn he does thanks to the help of an old mountain man played splendidly by Will Geer. At the end of his tough appreticeship he is able to become totally self sufficient. Eventually he takes on an adopted family which leads to a tragedy. Later he incurs the wrath of a local Indian tribe.
The film has a lovely authentic feel to it to it. You feel the loneliness these men must have felt way beyond civilisations influence. Many of the mountain men were larger than life characters and that is how they are shown in this film. I particularly liked the scene where a stranded wagon train is rescued in the depths of a Rockies winter, a feat actually accomplished by Jim Bridger. Aside from the films historic accuracy it is stunningly beautiful to look at. It does not require a great deal of thinking. Redford has never been better in a role that he is clearly suited to. Just sit back and enjoy the ride. It is a personal favourite of Redford himself, whose own wife hails from Utah, and is a film that has heavily influenced him. I can only endorse the other positive reviews and thoroughly recommend this film to you.
19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars As magnificent as its scenery!,
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "The Day That You Tally Is The Day That You Loose ...",
The films' lyrics are to be paid attention to, for they relate to what the scenes themselves are relaying back to the eyes. Providing the viewer with a balance of stunning visual and audio story telling(I can't remember the last film I saw that made use of this double impact in such a subtle manner).
Few Westerns have covered the lives of that hardy breed, known as Mountain Men as is depicted in this wonderful epic, these men were fundamental in starting what we look back at as the Wild West.
A must for anyone appreciating the hardships, loyalty, culturtural differences and courage that it takes to live in this world.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Jeremiah Johnson - Still one of the best!!,
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Rocky Mountains are the marrow of the World.,
Hardened after the war with Mexico, and fed up with everyday life, American Jeremiah Johnson (Redford) leaves civilisation behind to live life as a mountain man. He intends to be self-sufficient as a trapper, but he finds that mother nature can be tough, and out here in the mountain wilderness he is not alone. There are others here, and Jeremiah must face many challenges if he is to truly survive.
Filmed entirely on location in the vast wilderness beauty of Utah, Jeremiah Johnson is light on plot but all the better for it. Film basically constitutes Redford's mountain man learning to survive up in them thar mountains, and, earning the right to do so. A number of issues will arise to test his metal, giving him a number of hardships and adventures to define his transformation from average Joe to a fully fledged mythical man of the Earth. Redford is wonderfully at ease in the title role, and very quickly he gets the audience on side to share in his journey. But ultimately it's the landscapes that you take away from this movie. Not only gorgeous, but also the critical character that frames Johnson during his isolation and battle for survival. 8/10
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Humdinger,
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Jeremiah Johnson [Blu-ray]  [US Import] by Sydney Pollack (Blu-ray - 2012)