I would be telling a lie if I claimed to be a fan of westerns. I think I have seen my share although there are a great many classic westerns that I have not seen nor do I plan to see. Why is this? I think my expectations as to what a western should be are not in line with what most westerns are and this usually leads to a lackluster viewing experience.
All that being said I have seen a few that have made a lasting impression on me and oddly enough most of these films were released in recent years. The film — The Proposition – for example, was an experience, much like 3:10 to Yuma that caught me completely by surprise.
I suppose all of this is a very roundabout way of saying that I don’t expect much from westerns and that coming across one that moves me is a special occasion. This is why I am writing now.
3:10 to Yuma is what I call a man’s man kind of movie. It’s the kind of movie that I cannot imagine many women watching and enjoying. In part this is because there are so few women in the film and in part because it’s a movie about quiet resolve, longing and regret and sticking to your guns. Which is not to say that I don’t think women face these issues as often as men do, it’s just that the cinematic solution for men is often to run off and do something terribly brave (read: stupid) in order to try and solve these issues while women make sure that the children don’t die of tuberculosis and that the herd are fed so that the men have something to come home to. I imagine someone has made the movie that focuses on the latter part but Yuma is concerned only with the former.
I make those snide comments about westerns because 3:10 to Yuma is quite different from most in many regards. The hero isn’t facing bandits who murdered his family or sinister lawmen who beat him and left him for dead. His problem is that he can’t make payments on the loan for his house and he’s going to lose his home and ranch. Unlike a film such as The Unforgiven our hero isn’t a former criminal, and more importantly, he’s never been an exceptional anything. He now faces a very normal kind of problem, he has to find some kind of risky way to get the money he needs. When a dangerous opportunity presents itself he has no choice but to take it.
I’m not a movie reviewer and I won’t try to review the film here, I am sure it has already received the treatment it deserves. I did want to take a moment and write a little bit about how impressed I am by this film. It’s a simple story with few twists or big reveals. When you look at the cast, and I am sure the budget, it is apparent that this isn’t some small, independent film. It’s a remake of a classic Hollywood film, and yet, there is nothing that feels revamped or reworked here.
Perhaps my opinion would be different if I had seen the original, I can’t say. I can say that I have never had any desire to and I don’t imagine I will any time soon. The experience of watching this version of 3:10 to Yuma is exactly what I hope for each time I sit down to watch a movie. It’s an engrossing story that I can relate to and because of this it seems quite real. I found the moments later in the film, when the two characters tell each other things about themselves, to be both touching and compelling in a way that felt natural.
As a writer I am constantly striving to find a way to imbue my characters’ speech with more meaning than what the words convey. I try and find ways to have actions remain consistent with the character’s true nature (despite the words that come out of their mouths) and to inform the reader (or viewer) as to who these people really are. Yuma impressed me tremendously in regard to these two aspects, all the more so because the two actors shouldering this film are such big stars and because I already have distinct impressions of them because of their celebrity.
About halfway through the movie it occurred to me that however the film ended, whether Christian Bale’s character succeeded in getting Russell Crowe’s to the train station or not, really didn’t matter. It was an odd thought because, from a plot perspective, this is all this film is about. Does he do it or not? I think the point of the movie is this realization. I feel that to have this realization while watching (this strikes me as something you conclude after thinking about a film for a while) and to still be interested and invested in the characters is an amazing feat.
That, ultimately, is why I felt I should try and write a little something and say my piece about the movie. It’s a good film and from a creative point of view I find it very inspiring. I hope you do too.