January 9, 2008
An amazing movie.
February 12, 2010
I had viewed this movie after its release in 1991.
Although I enjoyed it at the time, I had forgotten about it until I recently watched a more recent Graham Greene role.
The movie contains violence, torture and brutality which would seem to make it a natural for American viewing audiences.
However, it also deals with native North American traditions and the inevitable conflict that will result from a collision of North American property laws and Native American culture.
Think, On Sacred Ground without Segal and Caine.
However, unlike On Sacred Ground, the Protagonist (played by Ron Lea) is Peter Maguire, an activist attorney and not a martial arts / demolition expert and clearly not ready for the path his life is about to take.
Maguire loses his battle against the owner of a local saw mill clearing the forest which has been home to the local native North American village.
When he meets with the local elder of the village to strategize the next step, the elder invites Maguire to a sweat purification ritual.
The ritual results in Maguire's realization of his personal frustration, anger, and outrage.
He meets Arthur (portrayed by Graham Greene) a native North American and an outlet for this anger.
Arthur is 500 years of native North American outrage personified.
While Arthur becomes the embodiment of Maguire's outrage, Maguire becomes Arthur's captive on a kidnapping and torture rampage of the local saw mill operator.
The movie incorporates a large dose of symbolism. As an example, Maguire's brief case is taken by a child of the native North American village who fills it with her collection of things from nature.
But I could not help but think that this movie could have been an instant classic and propelled all involved to a different level if the film actually took the direction it only insinuates, the duality of the Ed Norton / Brad Pitt characters form Fight Club.
Clearcut walks that edge, but never crosses it.
If it had, this movie could have been much more than it was, plot fodder for a Steven Segal interpretation.
I recommend the movie for several reasons.
Graham Greene does justice to that favorite of American movie going audiences, the psychopath (think Chigurh from No Country).
The scenery and filming are breathtaking. You feel like you are actually canoeing through the great north waterways.
Finally, the movie does offer the viewer an insight into the collision between the cultures of the natives and the frontiersmen.