Friday, June 19, 2015

you've learned nothing about these people

(Before I even get to the movie for today, a couple things.

The least important right now is that I am writing today in Arizona, about 27 miles outside Tombstone. Got a little roadtrip going. On the one hand, this is the second trip done for the blog. On the other hand, spending some time with the kids, dragging them to some boring old west landmarks and maybe going to see some alien stuff as well in Roswell. We're finalizing the details as we go. Gor a few days to make interesting. Unfortunately, and why it isn't that important today, Tombstone is not related to today's film. I've been taking these things in chronological order and I won't get back to the Earps or the Cochise County Cowboys for a while. I will share the picture when they are more relevant.

The more important thing--today Rick Ducommun died from complications related to diabetes. While I had room to talk about Harold Ramis for multiple days in this blog when he died, since the blog is not specifically about Groundhog Day, I cannot devote as much space to the man who played Gus as I might like. After watching Groundhog Day somewhere around 400 times in the past two years, I've grown attached to the actors involved and it is a sad thing to hear that one has died. In honor of Rick Ducommun, I will point out once again--as I oft did when arguing against, for example, Julie Ellen Benesh's (2011) doctoral dissertation, "Becoming Punxsutawney Phil: Symbols and Metaphors of Transformation in Groundhog Day"--Gus is the one who really had the revelation about what the time loop could be--

No tomorrow? That would mean there would be no consequences. There would be no hangovers. We could do whatever we wanted!

There are consequences to our actions, of course. But, sometimes, you just gotta take Gus' attitude and run with it; live for today as if you can do whatever you want... as long as you're not hurting anyone.

Now, on with our regularly scheduled program.)

It's interesting that just yesterday, in an aside, I mentioned just how little we've seen of Native Americans in the Westerns I've watched for this blog. And, when they have been around, they haven't had much personality. A Man Called Horse offers up an implication of authenticity regarding Native Americans with the opening crawl, and suggest a focus on them by showing us some of them before we get to the white men, including our main character, John Morgan (Richard Harris), an English aristocrat come to America to hunt... he laments early on, "I've traveled halfway around the world, at great expense, simply to kill a different type of bird."

And he is captured by natives after deciding to head back to St. Louis and stop his hunt.

Admittedly, I do not really remember this film at all though, chances are, I saw it at some point as a kid. Because I don't remember it and I am limited to just two screens, there may be fewer words today than I often have. Doesn't help that the film is mostly not in English. Gotta pay attention...

...

Just a couple things to say now that the movie is over.

First, Dances with Wolves just ripped this right off, didn't it? (Just combine Batise and Running Deer into Stands with a Fist and voila.) I'm not the only one to think so, of course. Richard Harris even confronted Kevin Costner about it according to Bob Herzberg (2008) in Savages and Saints: The Changing Image of American Indians in Westerns.

Second, I don't doubt Herzberg's larger argument (or what it seems to be... I've only glanced at his text) about the negative image of Native Americans in Westerns needing to be redeemed. As I mentioned yesterday, I have not seen much of the negative portrayal so far. Not enough to comment on, anyway.

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