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Depp, Silverheels and the Lone Ranger

September 3, 2014

Went today to see the opening of the new movie, The Lone Ranger. It struck me as I left the theater that the arc of the great golden age of American civilization can be described as extending from Jay Silverheels to Jonny Depp.

Some critics have called the movie odd. Edward Scissorhands was odd. Alice in Wonderland was odd. Dark Shadows was odd. In fact anything with Depp in white face by definition is odd. What Depp does do here is give a master’s class in overacting that would make Stanislavski cringe in his coffin. If there were an Academy Award for vamping your audience this movie would qualify Depp for a lifetime achievement award. The final 30 minutes or so is one of the finest examples of destroy the scenery and smash the sets mayhem (with humor) one can hope to see in a movie. We will not be seeing its like again soon. And of course, with The William Tell Overture blaring in the background, the image of the white hatted masked man atop the white horse rampant will always stir the heart of 70-year-old little boys.

The reviews are as odd as the film. One referred to the beauty of the images of the West Texas desert. West Texas could only hope its desert looked like that. Actually the deserts photographed are from Arizona and New Mexico primarily. Another review referred to the film as a remake of the 1930’s television program. I assume the reviewer is from generation X or whatever other generation that believes that television was always with us and that Julius Caesar had just caught his favorite reality show before stepping into that ill-fated Senate toilet.

Some reviewers complain that the movie is not a well assembled narrative. What have they been drinking? One goes to this movie to see Jonny Depp in white face as Tonto with a dead crow on his head. Everything else is gravy. Do they really think that people go to see Pirates of the Caribbean because it is the second coming of Captain Blood? No, they go to see Depp, Rush, Bloom and Knightley dress up like pirates, run around like crazy and say things like Arrragh. Narrative is so last century.

Finally, one review described it as failed irony. It’s not irony fathead, it’s slapstick. Slapstick is irony with roid rage.

Since I wrote the above I came across another review. This one criticized the film for its lack of a coherent message. Now, I do not know much about the coherence thing, but if anything the movie has too many messages. For example: We learn that bankers and board members of railroad corporations are evil criminals and have much more hair on their face than anyone else in the movie; that heroes die and have their hearts devoured by bad guys with hair lips. We learn that bad guys who are not bankers or members of the RR Board of Directors are really skinny and ugly and stare a lot and although they do not shave they have less hair on their faces; that Chinese laborers working on the RR right of way were treated abysmally and apparently it was appropriate to assure labor peace by shooting dead any Chinaman who comments on working conditions; that drunken white horses can climb trees; that US cavalry captains with curly blond hair sell out indians for money; that wise old indian chiefs speak perfect idiomatic english and you wished they were your uncle rather than the drunk who shows up at your house on holidays; that the RR not only destroyed the environment but also stole the land from the indians even though it was hard to tell where the RR was going since the rails were either buried in the sand or ran straight into a mountain; that the indians had had it with the RR stealing their land and the silver that they did not know was there, so they wiped themselves out by committing mass suicide charging a train full of soldiers with hidden machine guns; that women only dressed in gingham and whenever anything interesting happened hugged their young sons, unless they were one-legged prostitutes in red dresses who were fitted with a carved Ivory prosthesis containing a shotgun inside; that no one respected white-faced Tonto even other indians; that kids will sell out their tribe for a shiny watch then become obsessed with a crow that was mysteriously killed; that a man in a white hat actually can ride a white horse down the center aisle of a train in order to save the gingham dressed woman; and that old people lie to kids about their own youth, and much much more…

Finally, did you know that Clayton Moore who played the Lone Ranger on television, after the show went off the air always wore the costume, guns, mask and all whenever he appeared in public?

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