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Dead Man's Burden

2012

NR CC
3.8 out of 5 stars (26) IMDb 5.5/10

Reeling from a Civil War that divided both their country and their family, a brother and sister reunite on the western frontier only to uncover each other's unforgivable secrets.

Starring:
Barlow Jacobs, Clare Bowen
Runtime:
1 hour, 32 minutes

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Product Details

Genres Drama, Western
Director Jared Moshe
Starring Barlow Jacobs, Clare Bowen
Supporting actors David Call, Joseph Lyle Taylor, Richard Riehle, Jerry Clarke, Adam O'Byrne, Travis Hammer, Luce Rains, William Sterchi
Studio Flatiron Film Company
MPAA rating NR (Not Rated)
Captions and subtitles English Details
Purchase rights Stream instantly Details
Format Amazon Video (streaming online video)

Other Formats

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By K. Harris HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWER on June 14, 2013
Format: DVD
I really didn't expect much from the independent western "Dead Man's Burden," but I was actually pleasantly surprised. Writer/director Jared Moshe has assembled a small and relatively unknown cast and produced an efficient, effective family drama set in the aftermath of the Civil War. This is a low dollar affair, to be sure, but it proves that you don't need a huge budget to create an intriguing story. The film has a refreshingly hard edge and simply feels different than most of the pictures on the indie scene today. I was truly wary as the film opened with a shoot-em-up that bordered on melodrama. But when the movie and its screenplay get into the principle plot lines, the film has a grounded grittiness that I did not expect. A story of loss, reconciliation, retribution and betrayal, this little movie examines a family torn apart by circumstances. Can a long lost brother reconnect with his sister after their father's death? Or has too much changed for them both? The movie unravels like a slow burning powder keg that seems destined to explode. Moshe, ultimately, succeeds by keeping the scope and ambitions of this endeavor small. And by keeping the drama on an intimate level, the final confrontations pack more emotional resonance than you might at first suspect.

Although there are fairly important peripheral players, the heart of "Dead Man's Burden" revolves around a trio of leading characters. Wade (Barlow Jacobs) is returning to his family homestead in New Mexico territory having been ostracized for joining the Union army. His little sister Martha (Clare Bowen) and her husband Heck (David Call) are preparing to sell the land to a local developer to escape to a new life. The movie opens with a pivotal bit of violence that sets the stage for everything that follows.
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The genre is alive, well and evolving in a positive way. What I particularly liked was the depth of the story and its intensity with the absence of cliches and audience pandering. Also, one could viscerally experience the grittiness of the frontier and be mentally provoked by the contention between morality and self interest. Finally, the cinematography was superb in the old fashioned way. There is much more to this film than the usual fare. A must see for anyone serious about Westerns.
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Format: DVD
I've always enjoyed a good Western. There's nothing like the old West for the setting of a great morality play. The characters get to play dress up; the horses come blazing in; and the heartbreaking vistas make for some dramatic backdrop to the inevitably inconsequential human emotions. Finding something fresh, new, and vibrant to say by way of the American Western - if it's alright to dub it a uniquely American story - is the tough sell; one could argue that they've been done to death. If DEAD MAN'S BURDEN is any indication, then Boot Hill better make room for this `yawner' to rest in peace.

(NOTE: The following review will contain minor spoilers necessary solely for the discussion of plot and characters. If you're the kind of reader who prefers a review entirely spoiler-free, then I'd encourage you to skip down to the last three paragraphs for my final assessment. If, however, you're accepting of a few modest hints at `things to come', then read on ...)

The Civil War is over, and the newly re-constituted United States are still reeling from the great conflict that once divided the Union. Wade McCurry (played with modest appeal by Barlow Jacobs) receives a letter from his father; the letter calls the young man back to his family - to the exact place where the elder settler once banished his son from. What Wade finds is his little sister Martha (Clare Bowen) and her outlaw husband Heck (David Call) struggling to retain the homestead from a shady land developer (Joseph Lyle Taylor) ... or so he thinks.
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Above average script and acting make this a bit of a revelation. So many backyard westerns made by over zealous devotees or country music stars (talkin to you Trace, Dwight, etc.) are just bad ranging to awful. So it's a bit of a shock after throwing away things like "Swift Justice" when you see a coherent story with decent acting making good use of the country around it. I may be grading this a little higher because of it but I don't pretend to be Ebert, Siskel or Kael. And this film deserves a little extra for standing out.
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In these days when it is deemed to expensive to film a "big" production western it is great to see an independent film maker produce one that is memorable. Filmed on location in New Mexico it brought the West to life for just a short while, well worth watching.
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This is a great western and a really beautiful film. The cinematography and direction make the most of a sparse Western setting. And it tells a good, complicated story about how the Civil War affected families and the country after it was over. I've heard this is the director's first feature. Look forward to seeing more from him.
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