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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "The day that you tarry is the day that you loose ..."
He was a big man, maybe even growing in physical stature with the growth of his myth; deadly with his Bowie knife and his gun alike. He'd been a fighter in the U.S.-Mexican war, but left the lowland's ways behind in favor of a mountain man's: the lonesome hunt, the wild outdoors, and the confrontation with nature rather than his fellow men. And he came to be known as...
Published on July 2 2004 by Themis-Athena

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Published 1 month ago by Jake


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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "The day that you tarry is the day that you loose ...", July 2 2004
By 
Themis-Athena (from somewhere between California and Germany) - See all my reviews
He was a big man, maybe even growing in physical stature with the growth of his myth; deadly with his Bowie knife and his gun alike. He'd been a fighter in the U.S.-Mexican war, but left the lowland's ways behind in favor of a mountain man's: the lonesome hunt, the wild outdoors, and the confrontation with nature rather than his fellow men. And he came to be known as "Crow Killer" and "Liver Eating Johns(t)on" when he took war to the Crow nation after they killed his wife.
Based on Raymond Thorp/Robert Bunker's "Crow Killer" and Vardis Fisher's "Mountain Man" and scripted by John Milius and Edward Anhalt - with input from frequent Redford/Pollack cooperator David Rayfiel - Sydney Pollack's and Robert Redford's 1972 movie loosely traces the mythical hunter's legend, opening with his arrival at the fort where he buys his first horse and gun. "Ride due west as the sun sets. Turn left at the Rocky Mountains," is a trader's goodnatured answer to Johnson's naive inquiry where to find "bear, beaver and other critters worth cash money when skinned." All too soon, he finds that his lowland skills no longer do him any good. He almost starves in the freezing mountainous winter before being taken in by old "griz" hunter Bear Claw Chris Lapp (Will Geer in a stand-out role - his and Redford's deadpan exchanges alone make this movie worth its price).
Setting out on his own again the following year Johnson fares better, even gaining the respect of a Crow warrior prosaically named Paints His Shirt Red (Joaquin Martinez), the first person he encountered in the mountains. After assisting a settler's wife who had to watch her family massacred by Indians (Allyn Ann McLerie) and reluctantly agreeing to take charge of her son (Josh Albee) - a boy grown mute by the horrors he witnessed, whom he names Caleb - he comes across white hunter Del Gue (Stefan Gierasch), buried up to his head in sand by a band of Blackfeet. Revenging that act, Johnson unwittingly acquires a wife, in exchange for bestowing the Blackfeet's ponies and guns on Flathead chief Two-Tongues-Lebeaux (Richard Angarola): the chief's daughter Swan (Delle Bolton). Although neither embraces the match enthusiastically, over time Jeremiah and Swan learn to appreciate and, eventually, love each other. But then fate strikes: Against better judgment pressured into guiding a cavalry company through Crow burial ground, Johnson finds Swan and Caleb murdered upon his return. He sets out after the Crow who invaded his home ... and plants the seeds of his myth.
"Jeremiah Johnson" was Redford's and Pollack's second of seven collaborations after 1966's "This Property is Condemned." What most obviously characterizes this movie is the breathtaking manner in which its cinematography uses Utah's mountains (doubling for the story's actual Montana setting): despite studio budgetary limits shot entirely on location, the film had Redford acting as a virtual tour guide to the magnificent Wasatch, which he had recently made his home himself.
Moreover, the movie shows enormous restraint, particularly given its violent underlying story. There's no blood-gushing "Braveheart"-style, no dramatic score; fights are mostly one-on-one, occurring as they would in real life - silently, with only the opponents' grunts being heard - and despite his fearsome epithet we never actually see Johnson eat a dead Crow warrior's liver. (Reportedly a script change on which Redford insisted: wisely so.) Similarly, Johnson's and Swan's relationship builds on small symbolic gestures, moving from his coarse attempts to teach her English and refusal to learn her language to conversations in Salish (Flathead); and from her submissive expectation of his exercising his marital rights on their wedding night (which rather repulses him) to later-exchanged tender glances and smiles: Thus, we only learn about their marriage's belated consummation when one morning Swan points to his beard in response to his question about her reddish cheeks. - Further, there's no dramatic conclusion; no final battle: as Johnson's myth begins to grow and he withdraws deeper and deeper into the mountains, he retraces his steps and meets in reverse order the people he encountered after his arrival: Del Gue, the settler now living in Caleb's mother's cabin, Bear Claw Chris Lapp; and finally Paints His Shirt Red who, although a Crow, created a monument in Johnson's honor and sends him off with a last salute, which Johnson reciprocates; ending the movie in an immortalizing freeze-frame shot - again, a feature insisted on by Redford, doubtlessly in reminiscence of "Butch and Sundance" (and repeated one way or another in several subsequent movies).
Despite its languid pace and although just under two hours long, "Jeremiah Johnson" formally takes an epic approach, complete with overture, entr'acte and narrator (uncredited, but I think Willie Nelson), whose subtle voiceovers and brief songs provide key narrative bridges. While the latter match the movie's overall style and the overture at least corresponds with Johnson's mythical stature - albeit also setting up ultimately unfulfilled expectations of a dramatic finale - adding an entr'acte may have been a bit much, particularly in the middle of the ride through the Crow burial ground (incidentally a screenplay addition designed to give the Indians a reason to punish Johnson and not make them appear as mindless killers). In my view this breaks the dramatic tension rather than enhancing it; problematic insofar as virtually all that remains thereafter is Johnson's gradual withdrawal into the mountains and fights with the Crow. But no matter. This is a terrific movie, featuring great banter with Johnson's fellow hunters as well as some wonderfully delicate scenes with Swan, showcasing some of North America's most dramatically beautiful scenery, and growing on you more and more the more often you watch it.
And some say he's up there still ...
"The way that you wander is the way that you choose. The day that you tarry is the day that you lose. Sunshine or thunder, a man will always wonder where the fair wind blows ..."
(Lyrics, Jeremiah Johnson's theme.)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "The day that you tarry is the day that you lose ...", July 2 2004
By 
Themis-Athena (from somewhere between California and Germany) - See all my reviews
He was a big man, maybe even growing in physical stature with the growth of his myth; deadly with his Bowie knife and his gun alike. He'd been a fighter in the U.S.-Mexican war, but left the lowland's ways behind in favor of a mountain man's: the lonesome hunt, the wild outdoors, and the confrontation with nature rather than his fellow men. And he came to be known as "Crow Killer" and "Liver Eating Johns(t)on" when he took war to the Crow nation after they killed his wife.
Based on Raymond Thorp/Robert Bunker's "Crow Killer" and Vardis Fisher's "Mountain Man" and scripted by John Milius and Edward Anhalt - with input from frequent Redford/Pollack cooperator David Rayfiel - Sydney Pollack's and Robert Redford's 1972 movie loosely traces the mythical hunter's legend, opening with his arrival at the fort where he buys his first horse and gun. "Ride due west as the sun sets. Turn left at the Rocky Mountains," is a trader's goodnatured answer to Johnson's naive inquiry where to find "bear, beaver and other critters worth cash money when skinned." But soon he finds that his lowland skills no longer do him any good, almost starving in the freezing mountainous winter before being taken in by old "griz" hunter Bear Claw Chris Lapp (Will Geer in a stand-out role - his and Redford's deadpan exchanges alone make this movie worth its price).
Setting out on his own again the following year Johnson fares better, even gaining the respect of a Crow warrior prosaically named Paints His Shirt Red (Joaquin Martinez), the first person he encountered in the mountains. After assisting a settler's wife who had to watch her family massacred by Indians (Allyn Ann McLerie) and reluctantly agreeing to take charge of her son (Josh Albee) - a boy grown mute by the horrors he witnessed, whom he names Caleb - he comes across white hunter Del Gue (Stefan Gierasch), buried up to his head in sand by a band of Blackfeet. Revenging that act unwittingly leaves Johnson with a wife, in exchange for bestowing the Blackfeet's ponies and guns on Flathead chief Two-Tongues-Lebeaux (Richard Angarola): the chief's daughter Swan (Delle Bolton). Although neither embraces the match enthusiastically, over time Jeremiah and Swan learn to appreciate and, eventually, love each other. But then fate strikes: Against better judgment pressured into guiding a cavalry company through Crow burial ground, Johnson finds Swan and Caleb murdered upon his return. He sets out after the Crow who invaded his home ... and plants the seeds of his myth.
"Jeremiah Johnson" was Redford's and Pollack's second of seven collaborations after 1966's "This Property is Condemned." What most obviously characterizes this movie is the breathtaking manner in which its cinematography uses Utah's mountains (doubling for the story's actual Montana setting): despite studio budgetary limits shot entirely on location, the film had Redford acting as a virtual tour guide to the magnificent Wasatch, which he had recently made his home himself.
But the movie also shows enormous restraint, particularly given its violent underlying story. There's no blood-gushing "Braveheart"-style, no dramatic score; fights are mostly one-on-one, occurring as they would in real life - silently, with only the opponents' grunts being heard - and despite his fearsome epithet we never actually see Johnson eat a dead Crow warrior's liver. (Reportedly a script change on which Redford insisted: wisely so.) Similarly, Johnson's and Swan's relationship builds on small symbolic gestures, moving from his coarse attempts to teach her English and refusal to learn her language to conversations in Salish (Flathead); and from her submissive expectation of his exercising his marital rights on their wedding night (which rather repulses him) to later-exchanged tender glances and smiles: Thus, we only learn about their marriage's belated consummation when one morning Swan points to his beard in response to his question about her reddish cheeks. - Further, there's no dramatic conclusion; no final battle: as Johnson's myth begins to grow and he withdraws deeper and deeper into the mountains, he retraces his steps and meets in reverse order the people he encountered after his arrival: Del Gue, the settler now living in Caleb's mother's cabin, Bear Claw Chris Lapp; and finally Paints His Shirt Red who, although a Crow, created a monument in Johnson's honor and sends him off with a last salute, which Johnson reciprocates; ending the movie in an immortalizing freeze-frame shot - again, a feature insisted on by Redford, doubtlessly reminiscent of "Butch and Sundance" (and repeated one way or another in several subsequent movies).
Despite its languid pace and although just under two hours long, "Jeremiah Johnson" formally takes an epic approach, complete with overture, entr'acte and narrator (uncredited, but I think Willie Nelson), whose subtle voiceovers and brief songs provide key narrative bridges. While the latter match the movie's overall style and the overture at least corresponds with Johnson's mythical stature - albeit also setting up ultimately unfulfilled expectations of a dramatic finale - adding an entr'acte may have been a bit much, particularly in the middle of the ride through the Crow burial ground (incidentally a screenplay addition designed to give the Indians a reason to punish Johnson and not make them appear as mindless killers). In my view this breaks the dramatic tension rather than enhancing it; problematic insofar as virtually all that remains thereafter is Johnson's gradual withdrawal into the mountains and fights with the Crow. But no matter. This is a terrific movie, featuring great banter with Johnson's fellow hunters as well as some wonderfully delicate scenes with Swan, showcasing some of North America's most dramatically beautiful scenery, and growing on you more and more the more often you watch it.
And some say he's up there still ...
"The way that you wander is the way that you choose. The day that you tarry is the day that you lose. Sunshine or thunder, a man will always wonder where the fair wind blows ..."
(Lyrics, Jeremiah Johnson's theme.)
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5.0 out of 5 stars "The day that you tarry is the day that you lose ...", Nov. 2 2008
By 
Themis-Athena (from somewhere between California and Germany) - See all my reviews
He was a big man, maybe even growing in physical stature with the growth of his myth; deadly with his Bowie knife and his gun alike. Formerly a fighter in the U.S.-Mexican war, he had left the lowland's ways behind in favor of a mountain man's: the lonesome hunt, the wild outdoors, and the confrontation with nature rather than his fellow men. And he came to be known as "Crow Killer" and "Liver Eating Johns(t)on" when he took war to the Crow nation after they killed his wife.

Based on Raymond Thorp/Robert Bunker's "Crow Killer" and Vardis Fisher's "Mountain Man" and scripted by John Milius and Edward Anhalt - with input from frequent Redford/Pollack cooperator David Rayfiel - Sydney Pollack's and Robert Redford's 1972 movie loosely traces the mythical hunter's legend, opening with his arrival at the fort where he buys his first horse and gun. "Ride due west as the sun sets. Turn left at the Rocky Mountains," is a trader's goodnatured answer to Johnson's naive inquiry where to find "bear, beaver and other critters worth cash money when skinned." But soon he finds that his lowland skills no longer do him any good, almost starving in the freezing mountainous winter before being taken in by old "griz" hunter Bear Claw Chris Lapp (Will Geer in a stand-out role - his and Redford's deadpan exchanges alone make this movie worth its price).

Setting out on his own again the following year Johnson fares better, even gaining the respect of a Crow warrior prosaically named Paints His Shirt Red (Joaquin Martinez), the first person he encountered in the mountains. After assisting a settler's wife who had to watch her family massacred by Indians (Allyn Ann McLerie) and reluctantly agreeing to take charge of her son (Josh Albee) - a boy grown mute by the horrors he witnessed, whom he names Caleb - he comes across white hunter Del Gue (Stefan Gierasch), buried up to his head in sand by a band of Blackfeet. Revenging that act unwittingly leaves Johnson with a wife, in exchange for bestowing the Blackfeet's ponies and guns on Flathead chief Two-Tongues-Lebeaux (Richard Angarola): the chief's daughter Swan (Delle Bolton). Although neither embraces the match enthusiastically, over time Jeremiah and Swan learn to appreciate and, eventually, love each other. But then fate strikes: Against better judgment pressured into guiding a cavalry company through Crow burial ground, Johnson finds Swan and Caleb murdered upon his return. He sets out after the Crow who invaded his home ... and plants the seeds of his myth.

"Jeremiah Johnson" was Redford's and Pollack's second of seven collaborations after 1966's "This Property is Condemned." What most obviously characterizes this movie is the breathtaking manner in which its cinematography uses Utah's mountains (doubling for the story's actual Montana setting): despite studio budgetary limits shot entirely on location, the film had Redford acting as a virtual tour guide to the magnificent Wasatch, which he had recently made his home himself.

But the movie also shows enormous restraint, particularly given its violent underlying story. There's no blood-gushing "Braveheart"-style, no dramatic score; fights are mostly one-on-one, occurring as they would in real life - silently, with only the opponents' grunts being heard - and despite his fearsome epithet we never actually see Johnson eat a dead Crow warrior's liver. (Reportedly a script change on which Redford insisted: wisely so.) Similarly, Johnson's and Swan's relationship builds on small symbolic gestures, moving from his coarse attempts to teach her English and refusal to learn her language to conversations in Salish (Flathead); and from her submissive expectation of his exercising his marital rights on their wedding night (which rather repulses him) to later-exchanged tender glances and smiles: Thus, we only learn about their marriage's belated consummation when one morning Swan points to his beard in response to his question about her reddish cheeks. - Further, there's no dramatic conclusion; no final battle: as Johnson's myth begins to grow and he withdraws deeper and deeper into the mountains, he retraces his steps and meets in reverse order the people he encountered after his arrival: Del Gue, the settler now living in Caleb's mother's cabin, Bear Claw Chris Lapp; and finally Paints His Shirt Red who, although a Crow, created a monument in Johnson's honor and sends him off with a last salute, which Johnson reciprocates; ending the movie in an immortalizing freeze-frame shot - again, a feature insisted on by Redford, doubtlessly reminiscent of "Butch and Sundance" (and repeated one way or another in several subsequent movies).

Despite its languid pace and although just under two hours long, "Jeremiah Johnson" formally takes an epic approach, complete with overture, entr'acte and narrator (uncredited, but I'm told Redford's "Brubaker"-costar Tim McIntire), whose subtle voiceovers and brief songs provide key narrative bridges. While the latter match the movie's overall style and the overture at least corresponds with Johnson's mythical stature - albeit also setting up ultimately unfulfilled expectations of a dramatic finale - adding an entr'acte may have been a bit much, particularly in the middle of the ride through the Crow burial ground (incidentally a screenplay addition designed to give the Indians a reason to punish Johnson and not make them appear as mindless killers). In my view this breaks the dramatic tension rather than enhancing it; problematic insofar as virtually all that remains thereafter is Johnson's gradual withdrawal into the mountains and fights with the Crow. But no matter. This is a terrific movie, featuring great banter with Johnson's fellow hunters as well as some wonderfully delicate scenes with Swan, showcasing some of North America's most dramatically beautiful scenery, and growing on you more and more the more often you watch it.

And some say he's up there still ...

"The way that you wander is the way that you choose. The day that you tarry is the day that you lose. Sunshine or thunder, a man will always wonder where the fair wind blows ..."
(Lyrics, Jeremiah Johnson's theme.)
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5.0 out of 5 stars "Liver Eating" Johnson's story, April 15 2004
By 
Joseph H Pierre "Joe Pierre" (Salem, OR USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Jeremiah Johnson (VHS Tape)
Although highly fictionalized, this is the story of a real Mountain Man, whose nom-de-plume was "Liver Eating" Johnson--so-called because he habitually ate the livers of the Crow Indians he killed in his vendetta against them.

I was surprised by the casting of Redford as Johnson--almost as ridiculous as casting Alan Ladd as Jim Bowie in the old movie, The Iron Mistress, and for the same reason: Alan Ladd was a shrimp. Bowie was well over six feet tall in his stocking feet; some say six foot five.

But Redford came through with flying colors, although the screen writers left out many fascinating details of Johnson's (originally Johnston) exciting life. The movie was filmed in the wilds of Utah, and filming began before the script was finished. Weather was a huge problem, as well, and the studio never spent enough money and effort promoting it, but still it did very well at the box-office, eventually.

Driving through Montana and northern Wyoming several years ago, we passed Crazy Woman Mountain, which I think was probably named after Mrs. Morgan (in the story), whose family was killed by Crows (as was Johnson's); hence his killing spree.

This is a movie well worth seeing. It is not only entertaining, but the Utah scenery is delightful, and there is even a little insight into the actual hardships of the real Mountain Men of the Rockies, Sierras, Cascades and Blue Mountains of the West.

Joseph (Joe) Pierre
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5.0 out of 5 stars SOME SAY HE WILL NEVER DIE, Feb. 1 2004
By A Customer
A classic film, JEREMIAH JOHNSON starring Robert Redford continues to be an enduring statement about survival, priorities and the lasting beauty of a lost western frontier. Based on the vintage western book Mountain Man by Vardis Fisher.
Johnson moves west to escape a war-filled past and to find what he hopes will be a better lifestyle. Instead he discovers himself and realizes he doesn't know.
Befriended by Bear Claw Grislap, a seasoned mountain man played wonderfully by Wil Geer, Johnson is trained and prepared for what will be an arduous life. When Crow warriors cruelly murder his adopted son and his Indian wife, Swan played by Delle Bolton, Johnson is forced to engage in a personal war, one man against his enemies. The war he engages includes one of the most gripping fight scenes you will ever see on film and leads to a poignant movie climax.
"Some say Johnson is dead on account of this others say he never will be on account of this." From the standpoint of a classic film I choose to believe the latter.
Douglas McAllister
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5.0 out of 5 stars Very good movie about American West, Dec 21 2003
By 
T O'Brien (Chicago, Il United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Jeremiah Johnson is an excellent movie boasting a very good performance by Robert Redford. Jeremiah Johnson is a man fed up with civilization so he decides to go west and become a mountain man. At first, he struggles to survive, but he comes upon an old grizzled mountain man, Bear Claw, who teaches him how to survive on his own in such a harsh environment. Now living on his own, Jeremiah comes upon a boy whose family has been massacred by Crow Indians and takes him along with him. He also takes an Indian wife, and the trio make an unlikely family. This is a very good movie that shows very accurately what life was like in the mid 1800's. As well, the film is beautifully shot in the mountains of Utah.
Robert Redford is very good as mountain man, Jeremiah Johnson, who becomes a legend during his time in the mountains. Redford is surprisingly believable in the role as the mountain man who must survive on his own. Will Geer is perfectly cast as the grizzled mountain man, Bear Claw, who teaches Jeremiah how to survive. The DVD offers widescreen and fullscreen presentations, production notes, and a making of featurette. This is a very good movie that does not shy away from showing it like it was in the west before it was settled. For an excellent movie with a great performance by Robert Redford, check out Jeremiah Johnson!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Short and Sweet, Dec 6 2003
By A Customer
JJ is a film worth seeing, especially if you like a subtle, spiritual, Zen-like style. Like Pollock's amazing 'Out of Africa' (also with Redford) JJ streeses 'the land' and man's relationship to it (which is a subject of tremendous personal interest to Redford). See other reviews on this website for plot details and the cast/crew (no need to reinvent the review wheel). JJ is not your typical artificial "Hollywood" western. It is brutely realistic. BTW, there was a real JJ, and the film is based loosely on his life. JJ on DVD is one of those films that really benefits from the DVD format; the spectacular Utah scenery really comes through. The add-ons that come with the DVD (about filming JJ, mountain men, key personnel, trailers, etc.) are interesting, albeit short in scope. BTW, one review of JJ on this website says that Khigh Dhieg (of Manchurin Candidate fame) played JJ's mountain man friend Del Gue. Not so. Gue was actually played by Stefan Gierasch. The dialogue is sparse, and pity (and occassionally hilarious in a wry way), written mostly by the brilliant John Milius (Dirty Harry and Apocalypse Now and many more). The DVD 'The Mountain Men' (also available from Amason) is also worth owning if you are 'into' the whole Rocky Mountain mountain man saga. It's quite an interesting DVD (its a detailed documentary about a brief slice of America history during JJ's time) and the real JJ is mentioned it. Another good reason to get the DVD is the soundtrack, which is very pretty and benefits from the higher fidelity of the DVD format.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A PG narrative of "Liver-Eatin' Johnson", Nov. 27 2003
By 
MaynardG "maynardg" (Westminster, CO United States) - See all my reviews
This movie is one of several fascinating historical threads that I have been following since I first saw it as a 12-year old and loved it. First, it is based on the actual life of a mountain man named John Johnston, later changed to Johnson, and known in the West from the mid-1840s as Liver-Eating Johnson (see the book "Crow Killer" published 1958, R.W. Thorp & R. Bunker). I did not know this until recently and assumed it was all fiction. He was a huge man for his time, 6'2" and 240 pounds in his early 20's, had fists the size of baked hams and was best in hand-to-hand fighting with his 16" Bowie knife. Thorp and Bunker based the book on first-person interviews with several mountain men and others who had known of him, including, surprisingly, the famous photographer of the 1870's West, W.H. Jackson (photographer for the Hayden Expedition and famous for the first photograph of Mount of the Holy Cross near Vail, Colorado), but the real detail being furnished by an old mountain man named White-Eye Anderson, who told the story to R.W.T. in 1941 when he was in his 90's. After Johnson's Flathead wife was murdered on the Musselshell in Montana by a band of young Crow braves, Johnson "took the trail" on the entire Crow nation. His calling card, for over 20 years of butchery on the Crows, was to remove the liver of every Crow he killed and eat it. The Crows called him "Dapiek Absaroka". Vardis Fischer, on whose book this movie is based, "borrowed" as well certain scenes from a book written in the 1840's called "Life in the Far West" by George Ruxton, a first-person account of life in and near the Colorado Rockies. This movie does a fine job with a subset of Johnston's life, leaving out his service in the Civil War, and his later life as a town marshal and finally, his death in an old veterans home in Los Angeles. I got the notion that Fischer's book bordered on plagiarism after reading Ruxton, and after reading Crow Killer it seems all Fischer did was change Johnson's name to Jeremiah and slap on a cover with his name on it. The movie also leaves out that Johnson spies, among the pile of bones that was his wife outside the cabin, a round object about the size of an orange - the skull of his unborn baby. He collects the bones of wife and baby and puts them in an iron pot and inters them behind carefully mortised rocks near the cabin; a shrine, his "kittle 'o bones" those closest to him called it (never in his presence) he visits over the years. Will Geer's character, near as I kin figger, is based on a friend of Johnson's named "Bear Claw" Chris Lapp, a man known to say, when presented with grizzly claws his mountain man friends collected for him to make necklaces of, "Great Jehosophat! Pocahontas and John Smith!" The Crazy Woman, one of the most sympathetic characters I have ever seen in a movie, was in real life the wife of John Morgan, a foolish homesteader on the Oregon Trail who quarreled with the wagon master and took off on his own only to be tomahawked and scalped alive by Crows, his daughter raped and scalped alive, and his two young sons killed. Mrs Morgan, having killed several of the Indians with an axe yet driven insane by the loss, lived on the Musselshell and was cared for by Johnson and his fellow mountain men for years. The movie leaves out the little detail that she and Johnson beheaded the Crow corpses and set them on stakes at each corner of the graveyard where she buried her children, the weathered skulls a powerful medicine for the Crows ever after. It was the Crow's deference to this insane white woman living in their midst that finally convinced Johnson to call off his vendetta against them, after having killed nearly 400 Crow warriors. Liver-Eating Johnson's grave (and here I borrow heavily from "Crow Killer") is in a cemetary off of Sepulveda Boulevard (interesting, that. One of Johnson's comrades was a huge black-bearded Hispanic named "Big Anton Sepulveda") in a section called San Juan Hill, row D, 2nd stone from the road reads "Jno. Johnston, Co. H, 2nd Colo. Cav.". Get the movie and enjoy it; it's a true story. Only took me 30 years to find that out.
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5.0 out of 5 stars An American Masterwork!, July 11 2003
By 
Barron Laycock "Labradorman" (Temple, New Hampshire United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
If one can point to a single film that served to establish Robert Redford's credentials as a bankable movie star and a man willing to explore interesting and provocative stories and issues, it was this absorbing fact-based tale of a former U. S Army veteran turned reclusive mountain man named Jeremiah Johnson. The movie caused such a stir in the American west that when I lived there briefly in the mid 1970s, shortly after its theater release, there were many, many urban refugees making a stab at following Johnson's legendary example of a return to wild nature theme along Utah's Wasatch front. One would find mild mannered, longhaired, and heavily bearded young men with their well scrubbed blond haired women padding through the local Ogden, Utah supermarkets in their simple threadbare clothing, looking for basic provisions of Cheerios, Cheetos and California wine, climbing back into their muddy Jeep Renegades, and disappearing back into the wild places.
The movie itself is a joy to experience, a travelogue of the Rocky Mountain West, with breath-taking vistas and wide-angled panoramas of the rugged mountain terrain providing a magnificent backdrop to the unfolding tale. Johnson (Redford) is fleeing what he regards the senseless futility of modern (circa 1850) civilization, preferring to live a life of true rugged individualism, and endeavoring to survive long enough to become a mountain man. In the midst of his feeble first attempts to do so, he encounters a wise old goat played beautifully by the late Will Geer, and through Geer's tutelage Johnson gradually evolves into a skilled and self-reliant practitioner of the art of bare-knuckled survival. And we come to care about his man who wants nothing so much as a more meaningful and more centered existence.
Of course, there is trouble along the path to such a life, and the fractious interplay between arrogant soldiers and unpredictable Indians living in the mountains provide the coda to which his actions and eventual legend begins to unfold. Johnson gradually finds company both by way of a lovely and loving Indian woman, and an orphan he takes in after rampaging Indians murder the boy's family. One of the most interesting of the themes of the movie was the way in which the reasons, issues and concerns of Native Americans are portrayed, so that one sees them more as the complex, intelligent, and complex people they were rather than as the cardboard villains Hollywood has characteristically painted them as being.
In essence, this was an attempt by Redford to give a thought-provoking and thoughtful message about the nature of our culture and the importance of respect for different ways of living as well as different forms of culture, with his conclusion leaving us asking some important questions about prevailing cultural presumptions and the way we view ourselves and others. I ask the viewer to watch the final frames carefully, as Johnson provides a friendly greeting to an Indian brave, providing the signal the long war between them is over, as they pass dangerously close to each other. Some less diligent viewers suggested, to Redford's intense later frustration, that he was giving the brave the finger! Redford shook his head in disbelief, wondering aloud how anyone could possibly come away with such a notion from what he had presented so well cinematically. All in all, a great film, and one I heartily recommend for your collection. Enjoy!
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Universe of One, July 8 2003
By 
Robert Morris (Dallas, Texas) - See all my reviews
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No one can ever accuse Robert Redford of not taking on unorthodox roles, as indicated in this film as well as in others such as The Candidate (1972), Three Days of the Condor (1975), Sneakers (1992), and The Last Castle (2001). After serving in the U.S. Army, Jeremiah Johnson decides to become a mountain man in Colorado rather than accept what he saw as the limitations and constraints of civilization (such as it was) in the 1850s. Presumably he was trained in the use of weapons but hardly prepared for the dangers which await him. Throughout human history, food, shelter, and clothing have been essentials in life. Their importance is even greater to a mountain man who must obtain all three from natural resources. He ate whatever he could catch, trap or shoot. His temporary home could be a mud hut, a cave, a lean-to, or a sturdy tree branch high enough above the ground. He wore whatever he could devise from the hides of animals killed. (Hence the great value of bear, buffalo, and deer which provided both food and hides.) It is important to keep in mind that, for all intents and purposes, most mountain men were hermits. They were hunters, not farmers. During the severest of winter weather, they tended to hibernate like bears. They were almost always alone. For most of them, everything they needed and wanted could be found in the mountains.
This is the life which Johnson fully embraced after an extended apprenticeship under the supervision of Bear Claws (played by Will Geer). Johnson is determined to live in peace. He adopts an orphan. He agrees to marry the daughter of a Flathead chief to avoid a confrontation with him. He is (in effect) compelled to serve as a guide to some U.S. cavalry on their mission to rescue settlers, at one point taking the most direct route through a Crow burial ground. In retaliation, the crow massacre Johnson's family. Over time, after frequent encounters, Johnson gains an almost mythic reputation as an Indian killer.
The natural beauty of Johnson's world (identified as Colorado but filmed in Utah) has been brilliantly captured by cinematographers Andrew Callaghan and Duke Callaghan under Sydney Pollack's equally brilliant direction. That beauty is juxtaposed gracefully with constant perils and various acts of violence. Although Geer provides a commanding presence as Johnson's mentor, another interesting mountain man is portrayed by Khigh Dhieg whose zest for life contrasts effectively with the taciturn Johnson who rescues him at one point. (Dhieg later played the role of Dr. Yen Lo in The Manchurian Candidate.) Others who have reviewed this film have suggested parallels with Dances with Wolves, suggesting that both films glorify "natural man" while condemning the corrupting values of civilization's westward migration. That is debatable. My one objection, more a quibble than a complaint, is to the voice-over singing which seems to me to be the only inauthentic element. In all other respects, I think this is an outstanding cinematic achievement.
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Jeremiah Johnson [Blu-ray] (Bilingual)
Jeremiah Johnson [Blu-ray] (Bilingual) by Sydney Pollack (Blu-ray - 2012)
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