January 06, 2007

The Legend of Secret Pass

Arizona filmmakers team to make Native American animated filmThe Legend of Secret Pass, an internationally produced CG animated movie inspired by American Indian mythology, is scheduled to be released in theaters in 2008.

Local producers, Erik Stoops--who wrote the original story along with 47 other published books--and Matthew Boone, attorney and business mind behind the movie, became inspired after visiting Laughlin Ranch. Once in the canyon, which forms a natural wash, many animals can be observed in their natural habitat. Stoops and Boone quickly fell in love with the mystique and beauty of the area and decided to team up with David Lords to produce a feature-length film in hopes of sharing their experience.

The Legend of Secret Pass is about a Native American boy who must come to terms with his destiny, and with the help of magical Native American folklore, overcomes a wicked spirit and ancient evil and prevents a cataclysmic event. In the film, animals that Stoops and Boone encountered on their journey through Secret Pass all play a role in this "clash of ageless magic."
Comment:  You can see production videos and stills online at The Legend of Secret Pass.

Judging by these images, the movie is a romanticized look at Southwest Indian life with none of the harsh realities. The buttes soar higher than any formations in Monument Valley. The boy and his grandfather (?) live in a big rambling house that would be worth close to $1 million. The pass hides ancient pueblo dwellings more extensive than those at Mesa Verde.

The home looks modern--20th century at least--so it'll be interesting to see how the filmmakers handle certain questions. Do the Indians belong to a certain tribe, or are they generic? What about other humans, both Native and non-Native, and their technology? Will there be any acknowledgment of the non-magical reality of Indian life?


Rob said...

Your typical animated Indian movie presumes that Indians live in a "magical reality" inaccessible to non-Indians. Example: Disney's Pocahontas. In reality, I believe you'll find that Indians have no more access to supernatural "magic" than the rest of us. In other words, they live in the same non-magical reality.

Anonymous said...

Wow, I am guessing that the writer of the some of the previous comments only watches documentaries. Do we not go to the movies because they create a magical reality? In addition, making the above assumptions based on a picture review from the movies website seems not only unfair but extremely harsh.

Rob said...

Re "I am guessing that the writer of the some of the previous comments only watches documentaries": If you're referring to me, I'm guessing you're a newcomer to this site. I'm guessing you haven't read the dozens of commentaries I've written on movies, cartoons, and comic books featuring a magical Indian reality.

That I've seen so many of these products is exactly why I can say your typical animated Indian movie presumes that Indians live in a "magical reality" inaccessible to non-Indians. If you disagree, tell us all the animated Indian movies that don't fit this statement.

I (try to) go to Native-themed movies that have good characters and stories. Some of these use a magical reality and some use reality, period. Those that use a magical reality are often clich├ęd and stereotypical. These are flaws--examples of poor storytelling--that reduce my viewing pleasure.

Did you actually go to the Secret Pass site and watch all the production videos? I did. They showed me more than enough to comment on the buttes, the house, and the pueblos. They didn't show me enough to comment on the characters or the story, which is why I didn't do that.

All I did was ask some questions, which I could do even with no information. Here's an example of how the process works: Will Hollywood's Native-themed movies still be stereotypical 10 years from now? Only time will tell.

Anonymous said...

Fair enough Rob. I was simply pointing out that whether it is a Native American theme or any other them, it seems that Hollywood tends to push the envelope as far as what is needed for entertainment value (magical reality) and the true nature of the theme (just plain old reality). Sometimes the latter, though powerfull and interesting, does not have quite the push to keep us on the edge of our seats as the prior. I did notice in other publications that Graham Greene has attached himself to this film giving it a bit more credibility as far as I am concerned.

In regards to your question, "Will Hollywood's Native-themed movies still be stereotypical 10 years from now?" I believe as the Native American communtiy and influences change and infiltrate the film medium then Hollywood will follow suit but you are right, Only time will tell.

Anonymous said...

Non Magical Realities?? Are you people kidding? It is a movie, you are allowed to be as "Non-Magical, or Magical or Accidentally Magical and real or as non real as you want." Reality in history books that we use to aid our children on the history of the american indian would need magic to hold it all together.
I know the Boone for almost all my life and this is one Indian that will be there; and as far as Indians having magical powers; let me down a 6pack and a couple of shots and i'll give you all the magical poweres you could handle.
go Boone, kick ass and i sure hope the little ones enjoy your movie,,, who really cares what adults think anyways.

Anonymous said...

The movie sounds interesting .

And by interesting I mean something that goes nowhere.

Dee Day said...

I spent a whole season hiking and camping out in Secret Pass. I can tell you with no doubt in my mind, there is something magical about the area. I dreamed of an Indian woman and a very scared wide blue eyed boy the night I slept under those stars and I am happy to see someone make a movie about it. I hope it will stick true to the real story of how the white people were murdered by the Indians. Not to say white people did not do enough murdering of their own. It was just the time in Southwestern history.
I would suppose it would be the Mohave Indian Tribe that is portrayed in the movie, but best left to imagination so as not to insult anyone. After all even when remembering history we must be politically correct.

Rob said...

Re "It is a movie": A movie is a movie, Anonymous? Thanks for that deep thought. Similarly, my stereotype critiques are stereotype critiques. If you didn't know that before, you do now. ;-)

I didn't know there was a real Secret Pass, Dee. I guess it's near the Colorado River in the Mohave Desert? I couldn't find any pictures of it, but I doubt it's anything like the deep canyon in the movie. The movie's "Secret Pass" looks more like Antelope Canyon or another slot canyon.

With its G rating, I'm pretty sure the movie doesn't contain any killing. Or any real Indians. It's a magical version of a Southwest canyonland with few if any connections to reality.

For more on the subject, see Secret Pass Passes By.

Anonymous said...

I know where SECRET PASS is and have been to the REAL SECRET PASS!!!! I can also prove it and direct you there. The movie is a combination of absolute fiction concocted by developers and others to promote a housing development called Laughlin Ranch in Bullhead Az. Some of them claim that a washed out gulch within a mile of the development is Secret Pass and promote it as a fact to add VALUE to their development!!!! I know this to be true because I live in the ranch and hear these ridiculous claims by those involved in the marketing and promoting of the ranch on a weekly basis!!! The Mohave Pioneers Meseum of History and Arts in Kingman, Az has all the documented PROOF, directions, maps and printed material to absolutely set the record straight!!! Their number is 928-753-3195 at 400 w. Beale St. Kingman, Az. 86401. The real Secret pass is a pass going over and between the mountains approimately 7-10 miles behind the ranch. It is accessible by foot, horse or ATV and is approximately 10 miles from the ranch at its highest point which I have stood a top. You will know this when you can see the Laughlin casinos and Bullhead city over one shoulder and Golden Valley over the other. The pass is accessible from rt.68 and will take 30-40 min. by ATV. From L.R. it takes about 1 hr. by ATV. The pass is located on BLM land. The BLM trail number is 7821. The pass was and is still used to go over the moutains by the easiest and quickest route and should not be confused by a DEAD END gulch that is washed out by rains coming from the distant mountains where the actual SECRET PASS is located! The last route I would take to get to Secret Pass is through the formentioned gulch ( which I have been in ) unless you want to add hours to your trip and climb steep canyon walls needlessly! SEEK THE TRUTH IN ALL YOU DO AND THE TRUTH WILL SET YOU FREE!