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Hah! The de-glorification movie of the century. It has all the ingredients of the classic John Wayne vehicle: the Oregon trail, settlers lost in the desert, the shady guide, the perilous Indian… but it is all so different. The desert is spectacularly ugly and hostile in a very beautiful fashion, the settlers hardly talk, and if they do, only the necessities of the trail are discussed. The women look like witches floating across the barren soil when they are walking next to their carriages in their vast gowns. The guide (Mr Meek) is  most likely useless, but always full of good advice and preconceptions about the world, men, women, Indians. Is this what a documentary would have filmed during the trail? There is certainly not much glamour to be seen, but the sheer will of the settlers to just survive the damn thing and get to the other side – or at least to the nearest water hole.

Michelle Williams’ character is the only one that is allowed to break out of its walking coma a bit, with her trying to retain some form of humanity and reflection. We can imagine her to become the tough leader of the settler pack once they have arrived at their destination. But they are not there yet, and might never manage.

Barren, bleak, Kelly Reichardt. “We’re not lost, we are just finding our way.” Great film.

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