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Meek’s Cutoff

Event Date as Display String:

Sunday, March 8, 2020, 4:00pm - 5:45pm


Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts, 24 Quincy St., Cambridge



Event Description:

Gazette Classification: Film Organization/Sponsor: Harvard Film
Archive Cost: $10 - Regular Admission $8 - Non-Harvard Students,
Harvard Faculty and Staff, and Senior Citizens. Free for Harvard
students Contact Info: bgravely@fas.harvard.edu Link:
Reichardt's first period film is a starkly Gothic Western loosely
based on the true and harrowing story of a group of settlers who, in
1845, found themselves hopelessly lost and far from water, seemingly
led astray by their guide Stephen Meek as he searched for his
now-eponymous route to the Willamette Valley. Set upon the parched
Oregon High Desert, Meek's Cutoff uses its bleak setting and
elliptical structure to lend a mesmerizing fable-like quality to its
pared down narrative. Reichardt and Raymond's reinvention of Meek as a
deluded, messianic dreamer gives a critical edge to "Meek's Cutoff" as
a parable about the settlement of the West and, consequently, the
displacement of the same indigenous people who play a charged role in
the film. The film's severely difficult shoot included struggles
against hostile weather and recalcitrant oxen, hardships legible in
the disorientation and anxiety so effectively evoked by the cast led,
once again, by Michelle Williams, now joined by Paul Dano, Shirley
Henderson and a shaggy Bruce Greenwood as the increasingly sinister
Stephen Meek. Working closely with master cinematographer Chris
Blauvelt, Reichardt crafts striking images that resemble a
sun-blasted, collective fever dream of Andrew Wyeth, Winslow Homer and
Frederic Remington, accented by the women's tight, blindered bonnets
that echo the covered wagons to poetically embody the settler's
perilously narrow vision. Crisply shot in the now-historic Academy
ratio, "Meek's Cutoff" refuses the kind of sunset sublime so often
associated with the Western to instead explore an abstract, more
subtly expressive landscape in tune with the uneasy and trance-like
spell cast by the film.



Event Start Date as Date Type:

Sunday, March 8, 2020 - 16:00 to 17:45



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