A flawed but immensely appealing film adapted in part from Vardis Fisher's Mountain Man, a superb historical novel which explores the myth and the reality of the tough trappers who roamed the unconquered West in the 1850s. Shot on location in fantastically beautiful, desolate snowscapes in Utah, the first part of the film is terrific: tenderfoot Redford's first, baffled steps in the battle for survival; the weird encounter with a corpse frozen upright in the snow which provides him with his first real gun; the old man of the mountains who takes time out from hunting grizzlies to teach him how to fish, trap beaver, tell one Indian from another, and stay alive. After this things switch from documentary to picaresque adventure, and John Milius' script begins to stumble uncertainly. But it does come back on course towards the end as the Indians, half-worshipping and half-contemptuous, begin their hunt for the strange white man who has broken their taboos and disappeared into the snows - the legend of the West in the making.
Cast and crew
|Screenwriter:||John Milius, Edward Anhalt|
Allyn Ann McLerie