April 05, 2010

Preview of The Wild Girl

The Wild GirlNed Giles, an aspiring news photographer, joins the 1932 Great Apache Expedition on the search for a young boy who was kidnapped by wild Apaches. Ned finds himself on an unexpected and perilous journey through rugged terrain, when a captured wild Apache girl must be exchanged for the kidnapped boy. Stars Brian Austin Green, Graham Greene and Kathleen Munroe.Brian Austin Green & Graham Greene to Star in Hallmark Channel's THE WILD GIRL

The book it's based on:

The Wild Girl: The Notebooks of Ned Giles, 1932 (Paperback)From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Depicting the dusty Depression-era West this grandly, cinematically imagined sweat- and bloodstained saga, inspired by events that took place in Arizona and south of the border in the Sierra Madre badlands, dramatizes latter-day conflicts between whites and Native Americans. During the fall of 1999, an obscure, financially struggling photographer, Ned Giles—now in his early 80s—sells, for $30,000, La Niña Bronca, his only copy of a photo of a young Apache girl lying on the rude floor of a Mexican jail cell; the buyer's curiosity about the picture's provenance sparks Ned's memories. The rest of the book, set in 1932, reveals a legacy of heroism and lost love through Ned's scrupulously detailed diaries, which vividly recount a nightmare of harrowing misadventures beginning the day he signs on to be a part of the Great Apache Expedition, one of dozens of men hoping to free the son of a wealthy Mexican rancher kidnapped by the Apaches. (The wild Apache girl will be used as ransom.) The narrative unfolds as a series of flashbacks, intermingling short passages from the third-person POV of the fierce Apache girl and first-person excerpts from the diaries of the 17-year-old Chicagoan photographer on his first big assignment. Fergus (One Thousand White Women) makes unforgettable characters move against vivid landscapes in this laudable encore.
But...the book seems to be pure fiction. As far I can tell, there was no such thing as the 1932 Great Apache Expedition.

Which makes sense. I think a safari-like hunt for "wild Apaches" in the midst of the Depression would've been big news.

This Just In...News from the Agony Column05-03-05: Jim Fergus 'The Wild Girl'; Michael Cobley 'Shadowmasque'

Rip Roaring Historical Fiction

[O]nce again, we're in the realm of well-mixed fact and fiction. On the fictional side is the premise of the novel, the aforesaid Great Apache Expedition of 1932, out of Douglas Arizona in search of the son of a wealthy landowner who has been kidnapped by wild Apaches. Ned Giles is a photographer who tags along, takes notes and with the rest of the band, encounters a wild Apache girl in a Mexican jail cell. The Expedition hits on the idea of exchanging her for the son of the landowner. The execution of the idea, of course, does not go as planned.

'The Wild Girl' had its genesis in the travels of author Jim Fergus. Back in 1998--damn, such a pristine time; the world was filled with promise then, was it not?--Fergus was traveling in Mexico. In the village of Casas Grandes in the state of Chihuahua, he met an old man who told him the story of a young Apache girl they called la niña bronca, who had been treed in the mountains by the hound dogs of an American mountain-lion hunter in 1932. He didn't know what to do with her, so he brought her into town. She was so wild that she tried to bite anyone who touched her, so they tossed her into jail. Apaches played a sort of mythic part in the beliefs of the Mexican populace, and there were a lot of people who came to see her out of sheer curiosity. So many that the sheriff was able to charge admission, and the old man, at the time a young boy was among those who paid to see her. He confessed his story with shame to Fergus. And he would not say what happened to the girl. Fergus concludes, "I couldn’t get the story of la niña bronca out of my mind, and I knew I had to find out for myself what happened to her. In this way the novel was born."
So a young man found a wild child in a tree. He told the story to Fergus 66 years later, when he might've exaggerated or forgotten the details. Nowhere in the old man's story is there any indication of "wild Apaches."

Yes, it sounds like it might've made a good story in 1882, when "wild Apaches" were an actual problem. But 50 years later, in 1932? Hmm.

I wonder what the "wild Apaches" of 1932 will be doing in The Wild Girl. Driving their Model-T trucks? Working as migrant farmhands to survive the Depression? Dreaming of setting up a tribal government under the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934? Or acting like Geronimo and his band of followers did 50 years earlier?

But it's interesting that Fergus has now written two books featuring Indians. Both have gotten good reviews, I think. Good for him.

For more on the subject, see The Best Indian Movies and The Best Indian Books.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Another one of Hollywood's mantra.
I always wonder if Graham Green is an 'indian apple'. I don't know if he plays a stereotypical 'savage' in this one or if he helps erase some of those stereotypes as did Litefoot in "Indian in the cupboard". Looks like I should see it to find out. But I have to say I do enjoy some of Graham Green's performances in alot of his films, including the cable series--Wolf Lake.