|DVD For Robbing the Dead
Run time: 105 min
Director: Thomas Russell
Writers: Thomas Russell
Stars: Jon Gries, Margot Kidder, Barry Corbin
For Robbing the Dead is a story of compassion – compassion toward those who may seem the least deserving of Christian love. It follows the story of Henry Heath, a law officer in 1862 Salt Lake City. Heath finds himself responsible for the well-being of a prisoner whom he despises – an impoverished French immigrant named Jean Baptiste who is convicted of robbing the graves of the recently deceased. Baptiste is exiled to Antelope Island in the Great Salt Lake. With no one willing to look after this man, Henry Heath becomes Baptiste’s sole defense against the hostile isolation of Antelope Island and the contempt of an entire community. Through his somewhat reluctant service, Heath’s heart softens and his own sorrows find relief. Written by Thomas Russell
Release Date: 16 October 2011 (USA)
Budget: $200,000 (estimated)
Hmm. I'm not sure the film is about tumbleweeds, though that is a an interesting read. To say that the theological question is whether or not the victims of grave robbing go to heaven naked is as dismissive as it is inaccurate. This is no Ordet, but it's like saying that Ordet asks whether or not dead people can kiss. The film requires some patience and an attention span, but I found it rewarding. I didn't really identify with any theological themes, though I'm not a religious person. But I thought the ethical question was significant. Do we gain an increased understanding for those whom we're willing to help? I think it's interesting that the storytellers chose a notoriously violent genre to tell a story about forgiveness. I also think it's interesting that the violence is intentionally clumsy and not exactly satisfying. They're not the first to do it, nor did they do it better than Eastwood or Mann or Wyler or noteworthy others. But they did it more capably and intelligently than most. This is a fine film with stunning visuals, terrific performances, and a solid (though strangely quiet) soundtrack. Flaws? Of course. I'm not sure they're being honest about the budget, but if they made this on under a million, it's an even more impressive achievement. I know everyone's entitled to their opinion, but this is far better than a 5 star film (by the way, what goofball gave this film 0 stars? At least the person with the previous review clearly watched the film and rendered a sincere opinion!).
The movie is set in Utah during the Civil War (although no one in the film seems to be aware of this). It is about a Lawman (played very effectively by John Freeman, an actor a very short film resume) who finds himself responsible for protecting a convicted grave robber.
That's it. That's the plot. Can an engaging film be made that has unknown actors and actresses in the main roles with this plot? Yes. The story moves along well. The convicted grave robber (nothing as exciting as digging them up to eat them–he just steals their clothes) is played by David Stevens (another unknown) as a not-too-bright little weasel of a man. However, his views on his "crimes" provide some of the thoughtful moments of the film.
Much of the film involves how Freeman deals with others in his community–some who are compassionate and others who are not. All of the supporting actors and actresses contribute. Margot Kidder plays Baptist's desperate and slightly off-kilter wife (who he loves), Barry Corbin has a nice turn as the judge who also has his own history he is trying to live with, and Jon Gries (the older brother in Napoleon Dynamite) is a hoot as a hired gunman. Bernard Hermann makes a small appearance. Unusual film in that the major roles are played by people you've never seen, but the supporting roles are done by people you will recognize–all of whom have solid film careers.
The "gunfight" between Freeman and Gries is about the best I have ever seen. Realistic.
The film score is very nice, and the photography is beautiful.
I like films that are done well on little money. This is one of those. It is certainly worth an evening.
Just finished watching this movie at about 2:00 this morning. Despite the late hour and the approach of sleep, I had to check in here to see what the word was: three reviews. To be honest, I was surprised at how few people took the time to do more than punch in rating numbers. I was deeply moved by this story, and characters who seemed less like actors than real people from the period. Barry Corbin, long a favorite, was wonderful, as was Margot Kidder. Yes, it was generally slow moving, but oftentimes so is real life. Struggle, sadness and redemption don't come with explosions and car chases. And "westerns" needn't always come with blazing guns and fistfights. Moreover, most of us don't fall into categories of good or evil. Everyone in Redemption did what they thought was right, or at least necessary. I think these considerations will remain as images in my mind's eye for a long time. I liked, cared for and understood these people. They are us.
On the bright side, mostly grand vistas with generally pleasant and relaxing scenery.
You can guess from the title and that it is a Western that takes place in Utah the basics of the plot line. The spoiler is, joke on me, that there is next to nothing to spoil.
"Watch out now, Skeeter don't take kindly to you digging up and taking his ma's clothes.", if only, but no, the dialog is as memorable as that passable flapjack.
The theological question the film revolves around is: Does stealing the clothes from buried corpses force them to attend the Judgement as a nudist? It is a true story, an extremely underwhelming true story that the writer threw some spice on but the direction and acting left me feeling like I had been studying tumbleweeds.
Wait for it and wait for it some more, this can't be all there is can it? Yes, that's all there is, it's over, that was it. Wait I must have missed something profound, I refuse to believe someone made a movie about… nothing.
If you come up with something, please share.
All in all, that heavens I was not born then and there in that mind numbing wasteland.