Redford's Mountain Man
After serving in the US Army Jeremiah Johnson (Robert Redford) decides he wants to start a new life in the mountains of the American West, a life on his own in a house that he builds and with the food which he hunts and grows. But quickly Jeremiah discovers the life of the mountain man is not as easy as he thought. Thankfully mountain man Bear Claw (Will Geer) comes across Jeremiah and not only does he take him under his wing, showing him how to hunt and skin bear, but also introduces him to the local Indians on whose land he plans to build his home. But not only do things not turn out exactly how Jeremiah had planned but when the US Army come a calling on him it leads to a chain of events which destroy the life which Jeremiah has found himself with.
Over the years my TV watching tastes have changed and where once I might have religiously watched many of the British soaps, well when I am not watching movies, these days I am more likely to watch shows such as "Mountain Men", "Building Alaska" and "Life Below Zero". There is something about these shows where people live off of the grid which appeals to me despite the fact that despite wishing I could I never would make the leap myself. But in many ways my fondness for these shows explains why I also like "Jeremiah Johnson" as whilst it builds to take in some typical western elements the first part has that survival in the mountains element which is so appealing.
It is for me the first part of "Jeremiah Johnson" which is where it is at its best as it also features Will Geer as the wonderful Bear Claw and he brings plenty of old timer wit and charm to the role. But as I said the story evolves and along the way we witness Jeremiah meeting various people and ending up forced into marriage to an Indian as well as caring for someone else's child. But what we get is a storyline which after a lot of charm builds to include a typical western element which has some western revenge aspects to it. The thing is that it works and this storyline of a man seeking solitude in the wilderness and finding something different is entertaining and continually keeps your attention.
There are two reasons why "Jeremiah Johnson" is so successful and it is the combination of Sydney Pollack's direction and the entire cast's performances. What you get are a group of actors, led by Robert Redford, who commit to their characters in a physical way so that there are times when this movie doesn't even need dialogue to tell the story and evolve the characters. At times it is quite beautiful as is the camera work with Sydney Pollack and cinematographer Duke Callaghan continuously delivering one beautiful scene after another thanks to the amazing location shots.
What this all boils down to is that "Jeremiah Johnson" was and still is a very entertaining movie which constantly draws you in to not only the life in the mountains but also the evolving relationships. In many ways "Jeremiah Johnson" is as much a beautiful movie as it is an entertaining one with scene after scene which draws in nature's beauty.