January 23, 2008

Native-themed film nominated for Oscar

A short film based on a story by Elmore Leonard:

Short Film (Live Action)The Tonto Woman
Daniel Barber and Matthew Brown

These are the first Academy Award nominations for Daniel Barber and Matthew Brown.

A cattle rustler meets a woman who is living in isolation after being held prisoner for eleven years by the Mojave Indians.
More on the story:

The Tonto Woman and Other Western StoriesBefore Elmore Leonard was writing some of the best crime fiction in America, he wrote westerns. Some might argue that he has never stopped writing westerns, as even his crime fiction contains all the elements. What cannot be argued is that Leonard is one of the best at what he does.

Leonard proves his mastery of the short format with his first story, "The Tonto Woman." In a mere fifteen pages he weaves a tale of a woman scorned by white society, by her Mojave markings. These are tattoo marking on her cheeks and chin that the Indians gave her. Since Indians aren't looked kindly upon in the West, she is banished by her husband to a small plot of land on the outskirts of her spouses' property. Enter Ruben Vega, a cattle thief who has come to steal her husband's herd. They quickly fall for each other, which enrages her husband and leads to a fantastic nail-biting climax. This title piece is a great story as we see Elmore's craft of cutting a story down to its base elements shine through. It also showcases another of his talents; his characters are cool. Ruben Vega is a Clint Eastwood-like cowboy who is just too cool for his own good. Part of the allure of a Leonard novel is his ability to create characters that you want to be like. Unflinching, self-confident and yes, cool.
Comment:  I don't know if there are any actual Indians in this film. But the white woman has been tattooed like a Mojave and may share the Mojave values.

Note:  The volume is too low on these videos to follow them easily, but at least you can appreciate the visuals.

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