Pollack and Redford's 1972 western is some kind of wonderful masterpiece. The bare bones plot involves a veteran of the Mexican War named Jeremiah Johnson who seeks to leave civilization behind and make a new life for himself as a mountain man. He struggles at first, but soon becomes a seasoned veteran who eventually comes to find his place in the world, even if it means enduring some great hardships and tough lessons along the way.
This is definitely a film both of its time, and way ahead of it, especially with the portrayal of Native Americans being very balanced, fair, and differentiating between the many types of tribes and cultures. Dances With Wolves did this too, but this one came first...it just didn't quite get the same amount of acclaim and exposure.
I loved how there's a lack of subtitles and how much of the film in general is told visually, forcing the viewer to focus on facial expressions and body language to pick up on what's going on. This is definitely a winning case of showing instead of telling.
And it's also pretty funny too, with much of the comic relief coming from Will Geer and Stefan Gierasch, who, along with Redford and the rest of the cast all deliver some top notch work. Now that I think about it, there's really not a whole lot wrong with it. The cinematography and location shooting are excellent and things look great, the music is decent, and this is one of those films that was made at a time when you could still make them like this and not have to worry about too much tinkering and interference.
Yeah, the film does become really formless and plot free at times, but I didn't mind that a whole lot since it really is more of a character study anyway. The film might not be for all tastes, but if you tend to enjoy revisionist westerns that are made with care, respect, and authenticity, then you'll find a lot to love here. Highly recommended. Solid A (to a near A+)