Meek's Cutoff 2011 PG CC

Amazon Instant Video

(110) IMDb 6.5/10
Available in HD
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In 1845, the earliest days of the Oregon Trail, a wagon train of three families hires 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. Over the coming days, lost in the heat, the settlers face hunger, thirst and a lack of faith in each person's instincts for survival.

Michelle Williams, Bruce Greenwood
1 hour 43 minutes

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Meek's Cutoff

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Product Details

Genres Drama, Western
Director Kelly Reichardt
Starring Michelle Williams, Bruce Greenwood
Supporting actors Will Patton, Zoe Kazan, Paul Dano, Shirley Henderson, Neal Huff, Tommy Nelson, Rod Rondeaux
Studio Oscilloscope Pictures
MPAA rating PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Captions and subtitles English Details
Rental rights 7-day viewing period. Details
Purchase rights Stream instantly and download to 2 locations Details
Format Amazon Instant Video (streaming online video and digital download)

Customer Reviews

Some people start to wondering why nothing happens.
Darth Maciek
The story line is very flat and almost nothing happens from beginning to end.
John Chandler
I watched it to the end and felt I had just "wasted my time".
Darlene Brewer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

36 of 45 people found the following review helpful By Jessica Winney on November 20, 2011
Format: DVD
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 By McGillicutty on July 8, 2011
Format: Blu-ray
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 By Dan Harlow on July 13, 2014
Format: DVD
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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