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Author Topic: Drums Along the Mohawk (1939)  (Read 8234 times)
Groggy
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« Reply #15 on: May 03, 2012, 10:51:15 AM »

Point being that it's not really a film about the American Revolution. It's a film about the very peripheral effect that a far-off war is having on some people who, shall we say, aren't exactly on the front lines. IMO Gone With the Wind is not a "film about the Civil War," and neither is this one a "film about the American Revolution."

That's not an apt distinction. The Indians attacking the settlers are certainly in the employ of the British and you couldn't reasonably draw a distinction. I believe you're on the front lines when an enemy army appears in your backyard. Thus it very much is a Revolutionary War film. If you consider it thematically, as opposed to simple surface level, then it's even more evident as such.

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« Reply #16 on: May 03, 2012, 01:30:33 PM »

That's not an apt distinction. The Indians attacking the settlers are certainly in the employ of the British and you couldn't reasonably draw a distinction. I believe you're on the front lines when an enemy army appears in your backyard. Thus it very much is a Revolutionary War film. If you consider it thematically, as opposed to simple surface level, then it's even more evident as such.

It's true that if the Revolutionary War didn't happen, then this movie wouldn't happen. On that level, and IMO only on that level, is this a Revolutionary War movie

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« Reply #17 on: May 03, 2012, 02:40:00 PM »

It's true that if the Revolutionary War didn't happen, then this movie wouldn't happen. On that level, and IMO only on that level, is this a Revolutionary War movie

Except the events depicted in the film are part of the Revolutionary War. It is not a tertiary concern of the plot as in Gone With the Wind but its driving force and arguably its focus. If we consider, both literally and symbolically, that the film is about the creation of America, it's rather explicitly so. What are you on about?

« Last Edit: May 03, 2012, 02:42:33 PM by Groggy » Logged


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« Reply #18 on: May 03, 2012, 10:18:35 PM »

Except the events depicted in the film are part of the Revolutionary War. It is not a tertiary concern of the plot as in Gone With the Wind but its driving force and arguably its focus. If we consider, both literally and symbolically, that the film is about the creation of America, it's rather explicitly so. What are you on about?

O well, I guess it just depends on what you consider a "Revolutionary War film." I think your point of view is reasonable, but I consider a movie to be a "War X Movie" if its main purpose is depicting the  fighting of that War.

Yes, DATM occurs during that time period, but I do not think its "driving force" and "focus" are depicting the War. Yes, it is about the creation of a new country, the settling of (what was then) the frontier, but then again many Westerns (if you want to call DATM a Western) are about the settling of this country.
I don't think the fighting is typical "front lines" Revolutionary War fighting, that I'd consider a "War movie.". Though the Indians are hired by the British, these are more guerilla/terrorist type tactics than the battlefield of a War. In fact, one very important line, on this very point , occurs when the colonialists are attacked and have to retreat to the fort. One of the men says, paraphrased, "we can't expect the army to help us; they are off fighting the War."
So the soldiers were off fighting the War elsewhere; the fighting that is depicted here is just Indians committing terrorist-type acts. Sure, they were paid off by the British; either in real money or goods, or perhaps they were just pleased to join the British to fight a common enemy, and were given nothing for it except the weapons. And of course, the Brits are fighting a war against the colonialists, and that is why they are paying the Indians to do most of their dirty work. They got the Indians to do their work for them, though (at least according to History according to movies), these are the sort of attacks that  the Indians did all the time on their own, and were probably all too happy to do this, as they frequently attacked homes and women and children anyway.
I don't think that the fact that the fighting does arise out of the War that was going on at that time, necessarily means that this movie is a depiction of that War. (Imagine if Gone With the Wind had actually shown the Yankees destroying the southern plantations, rather than basically just showing the after-effects: I still would not consider GWTW a Civil War movie).


 Once the Americans won the War off-screen, a new country was created. Still, I wouldn't say this movie really was about the War; because I think this movie depicted a new country being born out of the sacrifices and tribulations of the frontiers; though of course a War was necessary to technically break away from England and form a new country, this movie depicts the new country being born out of the spirit of the frontier. So although this movie is probably not technically a Western cuz it takes place in New York and about 75 years before the era of Westerns, I think it is actually closer to a Western than a Revolutionary War movie: the birth of the nation is depicted as arising mainly not out of the victory of the field of battle, but out of the victory of the perseverance of the  frontier spirit, the sense of community, (and all those themes that Ford uses in his Westerns).

So IMO while DATM cannot fit neatly into either category, it is closer to a Western than it is to a Revolutionary War movie. But I think it is reasonable to feel otherwise.

« Last Edit: May 03, 2012, 10:54:14 PM by drinkanddestroy » Logged

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« Reply #19 on: May 03, 2012, 10:23:44 PM »

Quote
I don't think that the fact that the fighting does arise out of the War was going on at that time, necessarily means that this movie is a depiction of that War.

Huh?

Your methods of film analysis are marvelously reductive drink: there's something admirable about analyzing things on the simplest surface level. If you can only explain the above comment I'll happily cede the argument.

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« Reply #20 on: May 03, 2012, 11:18:39 PM »

Huh?

Your methods of film analysis are marvelously reductive drink: there's something admirable about analyzing things on the simplest surface level. If you can only explain the above comment I'll happily cede the argument.

Oops, Sorry, I actually used the wrong word there: I used the word "depiction" there when I meant to say something like "main purpose" or "focus."
Here is what I mean: the movie does depict some fighting that arises out of the War that was being waged at that time (far away from where the movie is taking place). But I do not think that the main point of the movie is to show the fighting of a War; that would make it a War movie. I think that the point of this movie is to show the  spirit of the frontier; Ford believes that it was this perseverance of the individuals and communities who sacrificed so much to settle the frontier come what may, and defy anything that came their way, that built this country. One of the things that they had to persevere against were these terrorist attacks by the Indians who were hired by the Brits, but the focus was on that indomitable spirit of those frontiersmen, that built this country.

It's somewhat similar to our recent discussion of To Kill a Mockingbird, and whether the focus of it was the trial of Jim. As I said, IMO, the trial of Jim was not the main point of the story. Rather, the story is about how the young Scout learned from the courage/greatness of her father. We see how, at that impressionable age, Scout witnessed her father doing all these great things, and the influence it had on her. His actions in defending Jim were certainly the most important of all the things he did, and therefore it is given more time than the other things, but still, that trial was just a (big) part of the real story, about the actions and courage of Atticus.

Similarly, I think the point of DATM is about how nothing could beat the courage and spirit of the colonialists, and certainly that led to the birth of this country. But I think that the Revolutionary War itself is just one (very important) part of that overall picture of courage, spirit, and overcoming obstacles etc., all leading to the birth of this country. (Just like in his later movies, Ford shows how that continued spirit in later generations led to the country's continued growth. And to many more square dances  Wink )

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« Reply #21 on: May 04, 2012, 04:25:37 AM »

Okay, that makes some sense.

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« Reply #22 on: May 04, 2012, 04:44:51 AM »

Just to put things in perspective the AMrev was a two front war. Yes, you had civilized positional warfare in the populated coastal areas, but you also had guerrilla warfare on the frontier. Like I posted farther up the thread the Mohawk valley was a very important strategic corridor to the Great Lakes. The white settlers there were permitted to settle there by the Mohawk Nation of Iroquois originally through the negotiations & work of Sir William Johnson. Just before the revolution the valley was basically split into 1/3d's, Torry, Rebel, and neutral. To the Iroquois it was their traditional homeland, they had sided and treated with the British for a number of reasons, protection against white encroachment, payments & trade goods, and the fact the the British allowed them to be in effect the middlemen in the lucrative fur trade.

It was the "civil war" nature of the conflict in the Mohawk Valley that the film attempted to depict, but conveniently omitting the equally repugnant acts on the Rebel side of the equation, while the neutrals were damned if they did and damned if they didn't.  Both sides were guilty.

In New York besides the Mohawk Valley the Champlain Pass was the equally important corridor FYI, and attacking from these two directions drew resources away from the coastal front.

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« Reply #23 on: May 04, 2012, 05:36:17 AM »

Just before the revolution the valley was basically split into 1/3d's, Torry, Rebel, and neutral. To the Iroquois it was their traditional homeland, they had sided and treated with the British for a number of reasons, protection against white encroachment, payments & trade goods, and the fact the the British allowed them to be in effect the middlemen in the lucrative fur trade.

It was the "civil war" nature of the conflict in the Mohawk Valley that the film attempted to depict, but conveniently omitting the equally repugnant acts on the Rebel side of the equation, while the neutrals were damned if they did and damned if they didn't.  Both sides were guilty.



Which population was split into thirds -- the Indians or the whites? Or are you referring to the actual land that was split into thirds?
(Or both?)

And when you talk about "the repugnant acts on the Rebel side of the equation, while the neutrals...." are you talking about the whites who opposed the British, or the Indians who opposed the British? (Or both?)

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« Reply #24 on: May 05, 2012, 03:48:01 AM »

Which population was split into thirds -- the Indians or the whites? Or are you referring to the actual land that was split into thirds?
(Or both?)

And when you talk about "the repugnant acts on the Rebel side of the equation, while the neutrals...." are you talking about the whites who opposed the British, or the Indians who opposed the British? (Or both?)

The white settlers, I talking about the white loyalist settlers of the Mohawk that were burned out of their homes and farms by the rebels.

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« Reply #25 on: May 05, 2012, 07:38:30 PM »

The white settlers, I talking about the white loyalist settlers of the Mohawk that were burned out of their homes and farms by the rebels.

history is written by the victors  Wink

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« Reply #26 on: May 05, 2012, 07:51:17 PM »

I glanced through this book at the library today CJ, ever read it?

http://www.amazon.com/Iroquois-American-Revolution-Barbara-Graymont/dp/0815601166/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1336269034&sr=1-1

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« Reply #27 on: May 06, 2012, 04:14:46 AM »


No haven't, a lot of my information of colonial history I've gathered from source materials such as this one and its other volumes: http://www.amazon.com/Documents-Relative-Colonial-Procured-Ocallaghan/dp/1174273585/ref=sr_1_6?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1336299102&sr=1-6

« Last Edit: May 06, 2012, 04:18:42 AM by cigar joe » Logged

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