38 of 44 people found the following review helpful
A four and a half hour walk seems longer,
This review is from: Dead Man's Walk (DVD)
Back in 1989, U.S. television audiences were treated to LONESOME DOVE, perhaps the best miniseries ever made prior to the more recent BAND OF BROTHERS. I consider LONESOME DOVE the best western ever put on film. DEAD MAN'S WALK, aired several years later, is the prequel. STREETS OF LAREDO, which has also appeared on the small screen, is the final installment. All are screen adaptations of a trilogy of books written by Larry McMurtry.
The purpose of DMW, besides being a story in its own right, is to establish the characters of the young Texas Rangers, Augustus "Gus" McCrae and Woodrow Call, here played by David Arquette and Jonny Lee Miller respectively. DMW is set in 1842, and Texas is still an independent Republic. In LD, set some thirty years later, Gus and Woodrow (Robert Duvall and Tommy Lee Jones respectively), drive a cattle herd from Texas to Montana.
DMW does a credible job molding the personalities of young Gus and Woodrow, whether they're beset by Commanches, Apaches, the Mexican Army, starvation, or imprisonment. Even love, for that matter. The viewer can see in them the men they're to become decades later.
Whereas in LD McCrae and Call are the pre-eminent characters, in DMW the two are overshadowed by a large cast of more colorful personae. There are Shadrach (Harry Dean Stanton) and Bigfoot Walker (Keith Carradine), the grizzled mountain men. Then there's Mattie Roberts (Patricia Childress), the stout-hearted harlot nicknamed "Great Western", who accompanies the Texans' various expeditions into the hostile wilderness and, after a bath and fashion makeover, has a poignant self-revelation. F. Murray Abraham plays Caleb Cobb, a pirate turned soldier-of-fortune, who, with green parrot on his shoulder, plots the capture of Santa Fe from the Mexicans. And Lady Lucinda Carey (Haviland Morris), who, with a pet boa constrictor and a Lady Godiva-type ride, teaches Gus and Woodrow something about the nature of "wildness".
DMW also introduces us to Clara (Jennifer Garner) and Maggie (Gretchen Mol), the former a shopkeeper's daughter, and the latter a working girl with a heart of gold. In LD, Clara (played there by Angelica Huston) is a major force in the film and McCrae's life. Maggie, on the other hand, has been dead several years by then, but her son, Newt, is a character perhaps third behind Gus and Woodrow.
Unfortunately, DMW suffers from the comparison inevitably to be made with LD, and I'm sorry to award only three stars. LD moves along sprightly and is never dull. Its prequel makes the four and a half hour run time seem much longer. The characters expend too much effort literally walking their way into and out of tough spots. Both epics are notable for authentic period costuming and are faithful to the original novels. Unlike LD, on the other hand, the soundtrack of DMW is so nondescript that I didn't even notice it.
If you're a LONESOME DOVE fan, DEAD MAN'S WALK needs to be seen for the sake of completeness. But don't expect the sublime experience provided by the former.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jan 15, 2012 9:40:47 PM PST
Excellent review! Very thorough and well written. Based on your review, I intend to purchase this DVD (I am a LD Fan). Thanks.
In reply to an earlier post on Jan 16, 2012 4:29:17 PM PST
Mr. Joe says:
Thank you! Enjoy your purchase!
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