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Meek's Cutoff [Blu-ray] (2010)

Michelle Williams , Bruce Greenwood , Kelly Reichardt  |  PG |  Blu-ray
2.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (110 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Michelle Williams, Bruce Greenwood, Will Patton, Paul Dano, Zoe Kazan
  • Directors: Kelly Reichardt
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Blu-ray, AC-3, Color, DTS Surround Sound, Full Screen, NTSC, Subtitled
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region A/1 (Read more about DVD/Blu-ray formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: Oscilloscope Laboratories
  • DVD Release Date: September 13, 2011
  • Run Time: 104 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 2.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (110 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00579YI1G
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #199,604 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

Meek's Cutoff, from acclaimed director Kelly Reichardt (Wendy And Lucy, Old Joy), is a stark and poetic drama set in 1845, the earliest days of the treacherous Oregon Trail. A wagon train of three families (including two-time Academy Awardr nominee Michelle Williams) has hired mountain man Stephen Meek to guide them over the Cascade Mountains. Claiming to know a shortcut, Meek leads the group on an unmarked path across the high plain desert, only to become lost in the dry rock and sage. Over the coming days, the emigrants must face the scourges of hunger, thirst, and their own lack of faith in each other's instincts for survival. When a Native American wanderer crosses their path, the emigrants are torn between their trust in a guide who has proven himself unreliable and a man who has always been seen as their natural born enemy.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
36 of 45 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Avant-Garde Western That's Actually Really Good November 20, 2011
This is a really interesting film. I'm glad that I read about it before I watched it so that I would know what to expect. If you do that, you will probably have a more enjoyable experience because you will be expecting it to be weird. While I agree that the film was slow and that the dialogue was difficult to hear (I, too, had to turn on the subtitles to understand what was being said), there are some really cool things about this film that I really liked. This is probably one of the most realistic films I have ever seen in terms of reflecting what life was really like for settlers during the time period depicted. I loved the beauty and sparseness of the scenery and I thought that the long periods of silence actually helped allow the viewer to experience the visual aspect of the film without having to constantly listen to people talk. I liked the conversations in complete darkness, I thought they were a really neat touch that added to the realism. Without the use of electric lights, complete darkness is what the characters would have experienced in real life and I like the way that was brought to the screen. It cut through the artificiality typically present in film by not making special allowances for the film viewers, like having lighting when it would normally be pitch black.

In addition, the justification for the full frame aspect ratio is one of the most creative that I have ever heard. I read somewhere, either in an interview or perhaps in the notes written on the DVD packaging, that Kelly Reichardt purposely did not use a widescreen format because she was trying to replicate for the viewer the vision restrictions imposed on the female characters in the film by the bonnets they had to wear.
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33 of 43 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The West was never so sparse... July 8, 2011
Meek's Cutoff is an ambitious film trapped by a budget too low to properly realize it. The film is based on an actual event that took place in 1845, although it bears little semblance to those events.

The plot, here goes;

Seven, count 'em, seven settlers (not including the fetus inside the pregnant lady) in three, count 'em, three wagons cross the forbidding Oregon desert trusting their lives to their incredibly hairy guide Stephan Meek (played by Bruce Greenwood). It's clear from the get-go that Meek has no clue as to where they are at, much less if they are heading in the right direction. But since any decision they make could be just as bad, they decide to keep following Cousin It...I mean, Meek until they run across one, count 'em, one Native American who may know the right way...or not.

On the plus side, the framing of the landscape, the sparse dialogue, and solid acting elevates this effort above the average "indie" fare. Lead by the really fine Michelle Williams (who bears a strong resemblance to Renee Zellweger), the rest of the cast follow admirably, especially the aforementioned Greenwood, Shirley Henderson (best known as "Moaning Myrtle" from the Harry Potter series), and Rod Rondeaux who plays the Native American in such a way that we have absolutely no clue what his intentions, if any, he has.

Indeed, the very subject matter of how people react in this particular type of situation is enough to generate a palatable tension as they press on into the wilderness. There is also a strong attention to the "details" of frontier life. The gathering of wood, the keeping of fires, the attention to the water supply that helps set the proper mood.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Water has no memory but it leaves its mark July 13, 2014
The first "rule" you teach a young writer is that you should always start your story at the beginning and end it at the end. This may seem like axiomatic advice, but often young writers want to cram as much detail and back story into their work because they have not yet learned the craft of writing. However, good writing is difficult and often requires a lot of editing to pare down the text into something that actually resembles a story. Too much exposition is boring or, at least, unnecessary to the story at hand. Every detail, line of dialogue and scene must work to serve the story - anything else should be cut.

The second "rule" young writers are confronted with is that once you know the rules you can then break them. Meek's Cutoff is a master-class in the second "rule".

Meek's Cutoff is set in covered wagon times in the American west (Oregon country) and follows the travails of three families, a guide named Meek and eventually a Native American from the Cayuse people. These are the facts of the film and they are not in dispute. However, we are told nothing as to how these three families came to be settlers, where they came from or even what they hope to find when they reach their destination. The film drops us into the story as the small band is already far into their journey and already lost in the vast expanse of the American west.

The opening shot, and this is where writing students should take note, is that of a river or, more importantly, water. Water and the life it provides are the ultimate stakes that drive this film. Everything depends on these characters finding water be it their relationships to each other or the decisions they make in the course of the film.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars No Beginning No Ending
This movie is different from anything I've EVER seen. There is no lead in or background - you're just on the trail with these people. Read more
Published 27 days ago by James
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Enjoyed because I've visited the area the movie was filmed in.
Published 1 month ago by Dave E.
1.0 out of 5 stars There was no real plot. The most impacting aspect ...
There was no real plot. The most impacting aspect was that it seemed to communicate the difficulty and uncertainty of the people who traveled west in wagons.
Published 1 month ago by Steve Wuthrich
1.0 out of 5 stars missing a major factor -- entertainment!
The movie started with three wagons wandering lost and being guided by a braggart, hairy trapper named Stephen Meek. Read more
Published 3 months ago by dhart
5.0 out of 5 stars an anti-western masterpiece
This is an anti-western or at least a deconstruction of the western genre. It makes the viewer feel the hardship of the journey in the Oregon trail but also shows the breathtaking... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Johnnie M. Adams
1.0 out of 5 stars Bad History and even worse movie
I would think (having just visited the Oregon Trail museum) that if a movie was going to be this bad at least they would get the history right. Read more
Published 4 months ago by marie p.
4.0 out of 5 stars Tipping the power and gender balance:the revisionist western
Meek's Cut Off is a revisionist western,in that it depicts the movement of emigrants west in America who are full of doubts,trepidation,fear of the unknown, ignorance of the... Read more
Published 4 months ago by technoguy
2.0 out of 5 stars A Nice Try...but a near total Flop. Not realistic by a LONG shot
The Meek Cut-Off, or Meeks "Trail" was noteworthy only because of the grand scale of the enterprise: over 200 wagons and 1000 people followed Meek on that ill-fated... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Northwest Reader
4.0 out of 5 stars Well done on the realism.
Great job. Now to create part 2 so we can know what happens. My guess, the Columbia is right over the ridge ahead of them, so they must be in E. Wash.
Published 5 months ago by KaW
5.0 out of 5 stars Understated Elegance
This is a thoughtful movie that will not appeal to people seeking excitement and thrills, nor will it satisfy people who want everything spelled out for them or who need to have... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Katherine Osburn
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