How To Become a Real Life Mountain Man

Miles/August 04, 2010

Well, first off you can start by getting off the computer, try reading a book, such as this one. Secondly, you could go back to the basics. Go to your locally-owned movie store and ask for Sydney Pollack’s Jeremiah Johnson (1972). Click for the continuation.

Back in the day when movies weren’t just special effects, Robert Redford and director Sydney Pollack teamed up for an incredible story of one man’s personal adventure and quest to become a mountain man. With obert Redford as the title character and Will Geer as “Bear Claw” Chris Lapp. The movie was said to have been based in part on the life of the legendary mountain man Liver-Eating Johnson, based on Raymond Thorp/Robert Bunker’s book Crow Killer: The Saga of Liver-Eating Johnson and Vardis Fisher’s Mountain Man.

The action takes place some time in the 19th century, though after which war, it is difficult to say. To replace the more usual affairs of men, the film concentrates on the power of nature, or the powers that simple men can wrest from nature, and, almost unavoidably, it keeps giving the impression of a literary interpretation of its materials. This is not the only impression, but it is the one underlined by the rhetoric of Pollack’s film-making — by his heavy montage, his treatment of landscape, his calculated merging of people and places through interminable lap dissolves.

The transition of Redford from a soldier to true mountain man is incredible. It’s said that once filming was done, Redford was so enthralled with this new lifestyle that he did just that, went into the woods for a while, solo.

The idea of a true “mountain man” is something that seems to be quickly vanishing. Some would say that it’s already gone, primarily due to the overtaking of property and natural resources. But the idea of it will always be there, and a strong one at that. The thought of surviving season after season with what you have around you, and by choice is a feeling that some crave.

Click here for a wonderful discussion with Sydney Pollack and Robert Redford on the film, and click here for the official trailer.

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