Broken Trail (Single-disc)
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Top-rated miniseries! Academy Award(r) winner Robert Duvall (1983 Best Actor in a Leading Role, Tender Mercies ) and Academy Award(r) nominee Thomas Hayden Church (2004 Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role, Sideways ) star in this moving Western drama. Set in 1897, Print Ritter (Duvall) and his estranged nephew Tom Harte (Hayden Church) become the reluctant guardians of five abused and abandoned Chinese girls. Ritter and Harte's attempts to care for the girls are complicated by their responsibility to deliver a herd of horses while avoiding a group of bitter rivals, intent on kidnapping the girls for their own purposes. Classic Western action takes center stage in this dramatic miniseries! "ACADEMY AWARD(r)" is the registered trademark and service mark of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. "Emmy"(r) is the trademarked property of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.
- Aspect Ratio : 1.78:1
- Is Discontinued By Manufacturer : No
- MPAA rating : s_medNotRated NR (Not Rated)
- Product Dimensions : 7.44 x 5.5 x 0.6 inches; 2.51 Ounces
- Item model number : CTR27975DVD
- Director : Walter Hill
- Media Format : Multiple Formats, Closed-captioned, NTSC, Widescreen, Anamorphic, Dolby
- Run time : 3 hours and 4 minutes
- Release date : September 30, 2008
- Actors : Robert Duvall, Thomas Haden Church, Greta Scacchi, Chris Mulkey, Rusty Schwimmer
- Subtitles: : English
- Producers : Alan Geoffrion, Chad Oakes, Damian Ganczewski, Ronald Parker, Walter Hill
- Language : Unqualified, Unknown (Dolby Digital 5.1)
- Studio : Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
- ASIN : B001CY5MZG
- Number of discs : 1
- Best Sellers Rank: #8,867 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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This film hits all the right notes: great dialogue, good direction, good pacing. There's a good balance to it all throughout. And the ending is great. It gives us just enough to be satisfied without overplaying it. The only negative in the film for me was that there are quick flashes of partial female nudity in the beginning. So if you're a guy like me who's careful about what you see because you're striving to be chaste you might want to leave the room for that part. (Although, the nudity, while uncomfortable, is not gratuitous. It does help to establish the theme of historical injustice against Chinese women which the film portrays.) There are also a few light profanities scattered throughout. I think there were only one or two GD's though. Some violence, but nothing overly gory. Overall, a great film that I think even those who don't love westerns will enjoy.
Best gauge is my wife who loved it from the first minutes, and she is not too fond of cowboys, dust, guns and horses... She was, as I am, enthralled by the fine detailed sketching of the whole movie.
Acting is good, Duvall being equal to himself as always, and Thomas Haden Church displaying a sometimes touching but mostly hard and fierce performance. All actors up to the task and more. I strongly recommend, if you are not allergic to the genre.
There is some disagreement over which movies are part of the "Lonesome Dove" saga. But 3 of them star Robert Duvall. I've not seen the other two. But the thing that drew me to "Broken Trail" was its historical nature. I grew up in John Day, Oregon ... where the trail ride began. Even today, local ranchers herd their cattle through the town once yearly to move them to pasture lands south of town. And at one time, my stepdad owned a 10,170 acre ranch west of John Day (outside of Dayville on Hwy. 26). Most westerns leave me flat with their glitzy cowboys wearing fancy costumes - with their hair never falling out of place ... since I grew up around "real" cowboys.
Just wanted to fill in a couple of historical details that might make the film more understandable. There were many Chinese immigrants in the John Day area during the time depicted in the film. Many of them worked on the narrow-guage railroad and many more worked in the gold mines. Everyone has heard of the California gold rush in 1849. But few have heard of the Oregon gold rush in 1862 after gold was discovered in Canyon Creek (near Canyon City, 2 miles south of John Day). But back then, Canyon City was called Whiskey Gulch ... and grew in population to exceed the current population of Oregon's state capital, Salem - at least until the gold ran out. Even today, Canyon City has a yearly event called the "'62-Days Celebration" including a parade through the center of town (that I marched in a few times).
So, this explains why there were a lot of Chinese girls in the area ... like the girls depicted in the film. In John Day during the film's timeframe, there was a business located in the Kam Wah Chung building (now a historical museum, see photo below). And part of the "business" they transacted likely included the sale of girls ... though area historians might not mention it openly (grin).
I won't take any stars away for this ... but I found it interesting that Duvall mis-pronounced Oregon as O-REE-GONE and that his British horse buyer pronounced Oregon correctly (Oar-EEE-Gun).
The landscape of this film was Canadian ... but, at least early on, matched the landscape of the Wallowa range they likely drove the horses over. So, this was like a time-travel adventure to me ... depicting the area in which I grew up as it was "back in the day."
P.S. One final note. The film is aptly dated during the "Boer War" fought by Britain (1899 apx.). By then, the economy of eastern Oregon was on the wane ... making the sale of ranches (and Chinese girls, for that matter) an economic necessity. It was around that time that my stepdad's parents (1st generation immigrants from Scotland) bought their ranch. The gold was starting to dry up - and a lot of other businesses that depended on that gold income were failing. Even the trade of horses, popular during the prior year (Spanish-American War), was drying up ... making the Boer War trade with the British a godsend to those who had horses to sell. It was a good way for them to get rich quick since the British were paying much more money than the horses were actually worth.
Top reviews from other countries
Yes he is a good guy, hardened and polished like the leather of his saddle, forthright and just, quick witted and gentle, but ready to use extreme violence when encountering those who would harm him or those he holds dear.
It is a sort of road movie, with much attention given to the trail, moving a herd of horses north to sell into Canada. They meet baddies and collect waifs and strays as they go. Supposedly based on a true story, it may be slow at times, but these interludes are laden with stunning scenery and character developement. I will not discuss the plot, just see for yourselves, but I have rated this five stars and would not take half a star away. After the Duvall story in Lonesome Dove I rate this almost equally. I feel sure that real western lovers will not be disappointed.
We start off with Duvall locating his nephew, Haden Church, trying to right some family wrongs. He talks him into a trek to deliver a herd of horses, with money to be made. Nephew picks up a fiddle playing ally along the way, before they bump into a stranger with 5 Chinese girls in tow.
An exchange of 'goods' occurs when Duvall and co are sleeping off the effects of the stranger's generous whiskey offerings. Morning is a rude awakening as they discover the herd gone, money missing and all that's left is a wagon with 4 Chinese girls...
Haden Church tracks the herd and carries out his own justice before rejoining his Uncle and their newly acquired lot. Slowly, relationships are built between the group, Duvall seemingly enjoying playing a father figure to them. A stop in a small town for some provisions unwittingly brings the girls to their rightful owner... but the men won't let them befall that fate.
Now they have trackers on their tail, wanting to get their hands on the herd, and take the Chinese girls to their life of prostitution, misery and a probable violent end. Knowing that sooner or later they will have to face these hired hands, they set up an ambush and warn them off. Duvall gets to deliver his herd, make a nice profit for him and his nephew and send the young Chinese girls to a safe town, where they will be looked after. That is if the gunmen don't spring their own ambush and get their revenge...
It has all the elements of a classic, the old but strong uncle, Print Ritter (Duval), his flawed, yet enigmatic nephew Tom Harte (Haden Church), plus just the right combination of goodies, baddies, innocents and glorious scenery.
But what stood out for me was the feel of the film. What makes a great film is attention to detail, and you might say that with a western this is easy to achieve. But with this film you feel as though you are with individuals who have lived through, and seen, how brutal the Wild West can be. The characters are quick to kill those they believe deserve it, but also have a strong moral code bourne out of the savagery of the times, which manifests itself in the protection of the Chinese girls.
If you have not seen it then I would say buy it now, shut the curtains, get out the popcorn, get a few hankies (just in case), and settle in for a three hour treat.
It's in two parts on the DVD, which I did not realize, and when the credits came up after the first part I felt so very let down as I wanted to watch the rest right now! Much to my delight the second part followed immediately. :-) As you can see, from what you've read so far, if like me you are a western movie enthusiast, I recommend you buy it.
I could so very easily watch it again in a few weeks time and then again in several weeks after that, and so on...
The cinematography was so brilliant that even if one did not like Westerns but enjoyed a good story well told, then this film should not be missed. The ending of the film is superbly done and as another reviewer has stated,not as one would normally expect.
Yes, this film deserves a place in your collection of memorable 'Westerns'.