The Legend of Snowy River
Jim Craig (Tom Burlinson) has grown up on his father's ranch in Australia where he has learned many of the skills needed to run the place. But when his father dies during a logging accident many think that 18 year old Jim isn't old enough or has earned the right to take over the ranch and must first prove himself by finding work in the lowlands. It is how he comes to be working for wealthy businessman Harrison (Kirk Douglas - Saturn 3) who is not at all happy that Jim is sniffing around his daughter Jessica (Sigrid Thornton). Fortunately for Jim he has an ally in prospector Spur (Kirk Douglas) a friend of his late father's who also happens to be the estranged brother of Harrison whose feud was caused by the love of the same woman.
That brief synopsis in truth doesn't do "The Man from Snowy River" justice as it's storyline is much more involved than that with treachery, jealousy, danger, romance and much more combining to make it much larger and more involving. And in a way I can appreciate why back in 1982 when it was released many audiences fell in love with this evolving romantic tale as whilst an Australian western it was a nod back to the westerns of a couple of decades earlier.
But something kept me from being enamoured with the movie and it comes down to the fact that whilst a western it is also a family adventure movie and has that softer tone to things with its teenage characters and their romance. Maybe if I had been a teen rather than an adult when I first watched "The Man from Snowy River" I would have been more impressed as with the romance between Jim and Jessica it certainly targets a younger audience. And in all honesty I found myself sitting there knowing what was coming, be it a drama about a wild horse or the drama of Spur finding gold, it was all just a little too typical and predictable.
Whilst both impressed and not completely enamoured with the drama of "The Man from Snowy River" there is no denying that it is a good looking production. Cinematographer Keith Wagstaff constantly impresses with his simple but beautiful framing be it the detailed interiors of the Harrison home or the glorious beauty of the Australian outback with its blue skies. And director George Miller keeps everything ticking over nicely allowing each scene to settle before charging head long in to the next.
The thing about "The Man from Snowy River" and the thing which I am sure makes it popular with a lot of people is the appealing cast. There is something genuinely nice about Tom Burlinson as Jim, a good kid trying to prove himself whilst he looks good with Jessica who is nicely played by Sigrid Thornton. For teenagers their romance combined with her father saying no to it as well as all the drama makes for an appealing heart to the movie. And that is before I get to Kirk Douglas who takes on the dual role of playing the wealthy Harrison and then the more happy go lucky and shaggy bearded Spur who wait for it, has a wooden leg. Douglas not only brings power to the movie but he also brings humour which nicely breaks up the drama.
What this all boils down to is that I can understand why there is a lot of love for "The Man from Snowy River" as it is a beautifully produced movie with a multi layered storyline and good performances through out. But I just found it all a little too obvious and so whilst impressed by the look found the storyline not involving enough.