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Author Topic: The Deteriorating Arch—A Moral Question  (Read 3935 times)
Herry Grail
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« on: June 29, 2016, 11:24:14 PM »

I've been enjoying reading about the remains of the arch in Monument Valley and various members' pilgrimages to it over the years.

From what I've read, it seems like the location is not maintained by its owners, which I assume is the Navajo Nation, nor is it designated as a Historic Place and has no markers, plaques, gift shops, or anything of the kind.

In fact, it's just a thing out in the desert that's deteriorating by the year and attracting more soda bottles than movie fans.

I know that OUATITW is not the most well-known film among the general public, but I've been pleased by how many people I've mentioned it to recently who do know it. Also, it's evident from this forum and other places I've visited on the internet that it has a huge following among both film fans and professionals, and is held in much higher esteem than I realized. Overseas it has spawned all kinds of special multi-disc DVD and Blu Ray editions with wooden boxes and harmonicas and Zippo lighters. So its following around the world is very significant, enough to warrant the kind of elite packaging treatment you'll probably never see in America.

My point is that there's a moral dilemma here: I think if you look at the interest worldwide, fans would go nuts for a commemorative piece of brick (I know, rock) from the original arch. Even with the deterioration, there is a ton of it still there. You could clear a single layer and—if you could market them worldwide, either on their own or as a bonus on the inevitable upcoming better-than-Blu-Ray release—make a mint from the little chiseled pieces it would yield.

Conversely, the Navajo Nation could either sponsor or allow a third party to raise funds for a cause (possibly related to film preservation if not a health-oriented one) by doing a "buy a brick" drive like other organizations and municipalities have done with parts of famous structures that had to be torn down. (My mother has this giant clay tile from a New Orleans church roof on her dining room wall.)

But...is that desecration? If it's deteriorating anyway, with no one trying to preserve it or even slow down its demise, and no one except buffs who have the means to visit it will ever see it since it's so isolated, wouldn't it be better to shave some of it off, maybe reinforcing the majority of what's left in the process, and let the rest of the world have a piece of it on top their TVs? (I guess TVs don't really have "tops" anymore, but you get the point.)

It sounds like there's enough of the pieces lying around to fund a hospital wing without even touching the main structure. Nobody wants any more than a Zippo lighter-sized piece anyway. Put it in a little acrylic box with a COA and you're on your way.

So...if it's not unacceptable to let it rot away in anonymity, and nobody in a position to change that sad fact has any interest in doing so, why not give it a more beneficial dismantling—maybe even leaving it better than it was, minus a layer or two?

My inner memorabilia-nut is intrigued.

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« Reply #1 on: June 30, 2016, 06:53:22 AM »

My point is that there's a moral dilemma here: I think if you look at the interest worldwide, fans would go nuts for a commemorative piece of brick (I know, rock) from the original arch. Even with the deterioration, there is a ton of it still there. You could clear a single layer and—if you could market them worldwide, either on their own or as a bonus on the inevitable upcoming better-than-Blu-Ray release—make a mint from the little chiseled pieces it would yield.

Conversely, the Navajo Nation could either sponsor or allow a third party to raise funds for a cause (possibly related to film preservation if not a health-oriented one) by doing a "buy a brick" drive like other organizations and municipalities have done with parts of famous structures that had to be torn down. (My mother has this giant clay tile from a New Orleans church roof on her dining room wall.)

But...is that desecration? If it's deteriorating anyway, with no one trying to preserve it or even slow down its demise, and no one except buffs who have the means to visit it will ever see it since it's so isolated, wouldn't it be better to shave some of it off, maybe reinforcing the majority of what's left in the process, and let the rest of the world have a piece of it on top their TVs? (I guess TVs don't really have "tops" anymore, but you get the point.)

It sounds like there's enough of the pieces lying around to fund a hospital wing without even touching the main structure. Nobody wants any more than a Zippo lighter-sized piece anyway. Put it in a little acrylic box with a COA and you're on your way.

So...if it's not unacceptable to let it rot away in anonymity, and nobody in a position to change that sad fact has any interest in doing so, why not give it a more beneficial dismantling—maybe even leaving it better than it was, minus a layer or two?

My inner memorabilia-nut is intrigued.
Dude, I'll sell you all the bricks and broken mortar you want and I don't even have to go to Arizona to fill your order. And you'll have my personal guarantee that every piece of memorabilia is "authentic." Were you looking to spend $100, $200, more? Put your check in the mail today!

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« Reply #2 on: June 30, 2016, 07:37:08 AM »

Dude, I'll sell you all the bricks and broken mortar you want and I don't even have to go to Arizona to fill your order. And you'll have my personal guarantee that every piece of memorabilia is "authentic." Were you looking to spend $100, $200, more? Put your check in the mail today!

Haha! You're not the only one out there! Can you provide a COA signed by Claudia Cardinale?  Afro

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« Reply #3 on: June 30, 2016, 08:06:25 AM »

My point is that there's a moral dilemma here: I think if you look at the interest worldwide, fans would go nuts for a commemorative piece of brick (I know, rock) from the original arch.

Conversely, the Navajo Nation could either sponsor or allow a third party to raise funds for a cause (possibly related to film preservation if not a health-oriented one) by doing a "buy a brick" drive like other organizations and municipalities have done with parts of famous structures that had to be torn down. (My mother has this giant clay tile from a New Orleans church roof on her dining room wall.)

But...is that desecration? If it's deteriorating anyway, with no one trying to preserve it or even slow down its demise, and no one except buffs who have the means to visit it will ever see it since it's so isolated, wouldn't it be better to shave some of it off, maybe reinforcing the majority of what's left in the process, and let the rest of the world have a piece of it on top their TVs? (I guess TVs don't really have "tops" anymore, but you get the point.)

That's a really interesting idea. I personally have no interest in buying a piece (I'm not a memorabilia collector), but I think you are correct that there are many people out there who would be interested.

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« Reply #4 on: July 05, 2016, 10:29:42 PM »

In my humble opinion:If the arch is visited regularly and enjoyed by lots of fans, a public shrine, then maybe there's be something wrong with taking stones. But if it's basically an abandoned place that hardly anyone knows about and it's just visited once in a while by some hardcore fans, then I'd think there is nothing wrong with taking a few stones, as long as there are still plenty left over there for the fans who visit  Wink

Not sure how you would cut the stones into small pieces, though. Maybe you'd just have to drop it from a high place and let it shatter and pick up the pieces  Wink

I don't know how many people you'd get to buy it; as DJ says, who knows if people will believe that it's real.

My educated guess is that you won't be the only fan who has taken a stone from there. Of course, if you advertise it publicly online, maybe Paramount will suddenly realize its value and go to Monument Valley and scoop up all the stones and sell them at a special auction  Wink

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« Reply #5 on: July 06, 2016, 04:07:33 AM »

I think it should be left alone as a relic, I'd hate to see it disappear. Now I wouldn't have a problem with a stone from the site surrounding the arch.

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« Reply #6 on: July 06, 2016, 04:55:09 AM »

I think it should be left alone as a relic, I'd hate to see it disappear. Now I wouldn't have a problem with a stone from the site surrounding the arch.

Fully agree with CJ!  Afro

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« Reply #7 on: July 06, 2016, 09:38:30 PM »

Fully agree with CJ!  Afro

The other option would be to repair it and make it an actual whitewashed adobe arch looking as seen in the film. Just like they restored Sad Hill cemetery in Almeria.

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« Reply #8 on: July 06, 2016, 10:36:23 PM »

I have heard from a friend that visited the arch that the top, curved part of the arch was made with wood. The sides are stones that are still standing, whereas the top curved part was painted wood that is knocked down by now (perhaps by lightning?) but some of the pieces of wood are lying on the ground.

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« Reply #9 on: July 07, 2016, 04:59:56 AM »

I have heard from a friend that visited the arch that the top, curved part of the arch was made with wood. The sides are stones that are still standing, whereas the top curved part was painted wood that is knocked down by now (perhaps by lightning?) but some of the pieces of wood are lying on the ground.

Sure it was just a temporary prop. But whatever is left should be incorporated into a real adobe arch.

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« Reply #10 on: July 08, 2016, 01:17:47 PM »

Is this it? It's the biggest satellite image you can get on Google:

https://goo.gl/maps/APc7Xn2BGcn


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« Reply #11 on: July 08, 2016, 04:17:46 PM »

Yes you can see the concrete that was poured for the camera crew.

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« Reply #12 on: July 08, 2016, 05:43:02 PM »

Yes you can see the concrete that was poured for the camera crew.

Oh, those are the dolly tracks! Awesome! Thanks  Smiley

That really makes the site feel more like a real landmark...there's more obvious history there; it becomes a film site rather than just a prop somehow. Almost a kind of archeological site.

I had no idea that they poured concrete for those kinds of tracks...I'd have assumed it was wood and removable. It's odd that the landscape was left with those long concrete tracks in place. With that nice little road around it, the place just cries out for preservation and/or restoration. What a cool dream...

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« Reply #13 on: July 09, 2016, 05:38:52 AM »

The pic I took 7-8 years ago:



You can see the tracks.

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« Reply #14 on: July 09, 2016, 09:44:24 AM »

Very cool.

You know, we've talked about restoring the arch before but there are problems. First, it's difficult to know who to seek permission from. I guess we could just show up and go to work and hope nobody stops us. The other thing is knowing exactly what to do. It sure would be handy if there were some plans somewhere, but I doubt very much such a thing would have survived. I'm not sure that eye-balling the image on the film is sufficient to get us what we want.

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