News of the World has been offered on pay per view and now it’s finally affordable. The streaming rental price two months ago was over Twenty Dollars! Its now around Six Dollars.
Starring Tom Hanks and our country’s history, the film takes us through several scenarios that look at our relationships with each other, with our North American indigenous people, intrigue around propaganda and historical facts, and definitions of faith and family.
On the other hand, the movie is a down-home western that could likely bare the Duke’s gangly walk, or hear Eastwood’s “Go Ahead, Make my day!” Yet, the film with characters riding in a Conestoga wagon doesn’t employ those standards and chooses instead a quiet hero who reads and reads aloud in a dance hall. The novel by Paulette Jiles transpires like a western but not exactly how a Louis Lamour paperback would, or a Sergio Leone spaghetti western would play out.
Oh yes, there is violence with guns, and violence against others, and violence aimed at females. These are standard scenes in any western. However, in this movie, violence is not a main character but does highlight our culture’s fixation on it. Instead, the plot takes us deep into our fascination with what exactly “family” is. We are asked by the author and director to reconsider what the word means and how a family is formed. Is a family “family” when someone is dropped into the midst six years after the unbelievable happens? With violence comes guns.
Throughout the film, the viewer can’t help but wonder what Cicada (Johanna) is thinking and trying to say. She is learning English as a second language through Captain Kidd. Gesturing and showing are key in their defending themselves against murderous villains aiming to do harm, as well as, being intricate to their communication with “friendlies.” Viewers see that Captain Kidd packs merely a bird-shot shotgun, rusty at that; with Cicada’s ingenuity, when the duo are cornered on the rocky hill side, it’s her cleverness that packs a wallop that authors the evil trio’s demise.
No doubt about it, walking with News of the World through Texas gives us a break from the Covid19 pandemic but also channels our journey inward through city grime and desert sage so that we can reassess our travels as human beings among other human beings on the way to “doing better” when we “know better.”