February 28, 2006

Western movies, western lives

I've been thinking about movies set in the West that somehow defy the "Western movie" stereotype. The American film industry has a hard time doing that; foreign directors have been, if anything, worse. (See "spaghetti Western.")

Scrapple came out in 1998 but is set in the mid-1970s in a fictional Colorado town that seems based on Telluride as Telluride was back then--just before it was "discovered." The good guys smoke cannabis and the bad guys snort coke between real-estate deals. (It's the cocaine scene that Colorado journalists Ed Quillen and B.J. Plasket described in their 1985 book The White Stuff.)

Most of the actors have no other film credits listed in the Internet Movie Database, and as M. noted, there may be a reason for that. Still, it's a comic slice of ski-bum life as it was then lived (they're even reading The Mountain Gazette), and the clothes are right: I know I've seen that patchworth denim skirt on someone.

And those shots of the Dolores River country around the little town of Gateway...

Meanwhile, director Christopher Cain is finishing a film on something that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints wishes that everyone would just forget: the 1957 Mountain Meadows Massacre. Coincidentally, the date was Sept. 11, 1857; hence the title, September Dawn (New York Times--registration required).

Much of the dialog comes from court depositions given by Mormon leader Brigham Young and his chief enforcer, John Lee.

As the story unfolds, a company of pioneers arrives from Arkansas. A couple of young lovers-to-be - one a Mormon, the other part of the ill-fated wagon train - meet amid a toxic atmosphere of suspicion and rancor. A Mormon raid ends with a castration, an enemy's testicles neatly nailed to a door. All the while, the territorial governor and president of the church, Brigham Young, played by Mr. Stamp, is heard in voice-over, encouraging vengeance, violence, "blood atonement" and divine justice.

"And by the way," Mr. Cain said, "I didn't write any of his dialogue," explaining that it was all in the depositions that Young gave after the massacre. "I sat here watching this a couple of weeks ago and I was thinking: 'Maybe I made that up. I don't think he would have said that.' And I went back and pulled it up and, man, he did."

It's "Sweet Betsy from Pike" meets "blood atonement."


CrackerRapper63 said...

You can read more about the event and see the movie trailer at:


The TRUTH will be revealed MAY 4

granders1172 said...

I am a fan of westerns and I am a fan of telling the truth. This film, September Dawn, does it for me! We finally get to see the truth of the inception of this false faith. Well the beginning forefathers that is.

The TRUTH will be revealed on August 24th 2007!

A great movie and great quality film. Great actors!