Friday, 7 March 2014

Great film scenes #1: the Land Rush Scene (Far and Away)

There are quite a few famous scenes involving galloping hordes, so I thought I'd do a series of blog posts on favourites.  Please suggest any film you'd like below...

Land run (sometimes "land rush" ) usually refers to an event in which land of the United States was opened to settlement on a first arrival basis.  The settlers, no matter how they acquired occupancy, purchased the land from the United States Land Office.

You can watch a recreation of one such run (the Cherokee Strip Land Run) in Far and Away, as a friend told me today.  
The Cherokee Strip Land Run
My friend mentioned the film because he thought it might inspire braver riding from yours truly.  You'll see why if you watch the clip below...

Setting aside the thorny question of where the US Land Office got the land from, this is a great scene.  Tom has turned up late to the party, so there are only two horses left.  One is half-dead and the other one is bucking like mad.  He chooses the half-dead horse.  It dies.  He then has to saddle up the crazy green horse, which duly goes bananas.  In a move familiar to horse lovers everywhere, Tom delivers a smart punch to the nose of the horse, horse falls in love with him and there follows a glorious galloping scene where Tom outpaces everyone.

The film borrows heavily from an earlier (1925) film, and you can find the famous land rush scene from "Tumbleweeds" here.

To give Far and Away some credit, when Nicole Kidman's character announces she is going to America to claim land being given away, Tom Cruise points out that all land belongs to someone.  Or something similar.  Well done Tom - I don't know why people think you're unusual.

Sadly, the removal of the Cherokee and other peoples following the Indian Removal Act of 1830 that allowed land runs like this was terrible.  Many Native Americans suffered from exposure, disease and starvation on the route to their destinations.  Many died, including at least 2,000-6,000 of 16,542 relocated Cherokee, although this number is disputed.  The route walked has become known as the Trail of Tears and I don't think the removal can be described as anything other than ethnic cleansing.  As one lady says, the Trail isn't a celebration of her people, it's a memorial.

You can read more about the Trial and the horrors that went with it here.  You can help support indigenous peoples here.