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Author Topic: THE OUTLAW JOSEY WALES: The Story 9: An Anti-War Film?  (Read 11934 times)
KC
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« on: September 28, 2004, 12:05:55 AM »

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The thing that impressed me about the book was the whole treatment of war in general and the futility of it and how it not only destroys a lot of people's lives in combat, but everybody around them.
(Clint Eastwood, from the 1999 documentary Hell Hath No Fury: The Making of The Outlaw Josey Wales)

Discuss the anti-war theme and the anti-government theme of the film, including specific quotes, or scenes from the film that drive the points home the strongest.
« Last Edit: September 28, 2004, 12:25:07 AM by KC » Logged
Wombat
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« Reply #1 on: October 01, 2004, 06:28:40 AM »

Anti-war ?  Hmmm - I don't think so.

To me the film, which I regard as the most brilliant film I have ever seen and I am ever likely to see, is about 'right and wrong' and justice.

The scenario was based around the American Civil War but it could be set anywhere, anytime.

A man had his Family murdered and he wanted justice and the only way to get justice was to take the initiative himself.  In the civil war scenario that meant fighting against the Bluecoats and the Red Legs.

No matter what your personal opinion about the rights and the wrongs of the American Civil War - Josey fought it for his own justice.  Personal justice for the murder of his Family.

I commend the morality of Josey and his adaption to the environment into which he was thrust.  And he survived and finally a sembelance of justice was fought and bought in a virtually deserted town in the middle of nowhere.  No war - war was over.

A man's rights !  And the plight of the Native Americans was also addressed - no justice there either.  And the Indians were required to adapt to the environment that was thrust upon them also and they shared (Lone Watie and Ten Bears) the same path that Josey travelled.

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Wombat
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« Reply #2 on: October 05, 2004, 12:20:01 PM »

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"I'm just giving you life, and you're giving me life. And I'm sayin' that men can live together without butchering one another."

Definitely a film with anti-war themes, in my humble opinion.

Also one of the great movie scenes of all-time...
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« Reply #3 on: October 06, 2004, 06:18:47 AM »

MC,

An esoteric statement in a film that revolved around war.  A line that says there other ways to solve a problem then having a shootout.  Fair enough.

However, Josey used the war to gain justice for himself and his Family.  That action contradicts an anti-war sentiment.  Josey used force throughout the film to achieve his aims. And he was willing to use it with Ten Bears but they were of the same mold and agreed that "dieing ain't hard for men like you and me, it's living that is hard".

Cannot agree that the film was anti-war.  In fact I would go out on a limb and say whatever means you have available at the time is acceptable if your actions are just.  But with the rider of acceptable to the 'TIME AND PLACE'.

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Wombat
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vik
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« Reply #4 on: October 11, 2004, 01:56:11 AM »

he didn't use the war to gain justice - the war was a contributing factor to the death of his family

however his family was not killed in the direct line of fire rather than by a bunch of thieves and killers who had no right to do what they did - they didn't have to kill anyone - it reminds me of shendoah in that respect

i don't see it as an anti-war film but as a message of war where some people are not accountable for their actions

i think that falls in line with the indians that alot of the fighting was done by renegade factions on both sides - inncocent people were caught in the middle


« Last Edit: October 11, 2004, 02:01:54 AM by vik » Logged

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« Reply #5 on: October 11, 2004, 06:15:38 AM »

Vik,

I agree bad things always happen in a war.  And what happened to Josey's Family was a War Crime conducted by a para-military organisation under the Union Flag.  They (the Redlegs) were regarded as a Union Force and recognised as such - albeit at times reluctantly.  As the Senator said: 'Captain Terrill is the Legal Federal Authority".  And they wore a Blue Scum Belly uniform.

Those not accountable for their actions are invariably on the winning side.  Particularly, in the time frame of the American Civil War.  There was no Hague Court, or League of Nations, or United Nations, or International Court - so yes I agree - the Redleg Blue Scum Bellies got away with murder.

I cannot agree with your statement that Josey "didn't use the war to gain justice".  If he wasn't using the war to assist him in his fight for justice - his justice against the Redlegs - what the heck was he doing ?

But I do agree wholeheartedly that the war was, not a contributing factor, but THE FACTOR that lead to the murder of his Family.

And you are dead right Vik - in any war the innocents are caught in the middle.  Just look at the news anyday of the week and it is happening around the world even as I type this post.

I just hope that someone somewhere is keeping an eye on the atrocities being perpetuated by ALL SIDES IN A CONFLICT.  I do not believe that the International Court has any capacity to carry out that task effectively - AT THE MOMENT.  Hopefull that will change with time.

Regards,

Wombat
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« Reply #6 on: October 11, 2004, 07:56:12 AM »

look at the film in two parts the initial killing and fighting

then the outlaw josey wales part which on the whole takes up the most of the film

the war is over - so where is he using the war to get justice - he's not he has been turned into an outlaw with a bounty on his head  

when bounty hunters or redlegs see him or whoever thay are trying to get him for the bounty or as an outlaw

in fact he would have gone out of town with his stores quite happily if the super irratating salesman hadn't spotted him

fletcher and terril come to him - not the other way round
« Last Edit: October 11, 2004, 08:53:35 AM by vik » Logged

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« Reply #7 on: October 12, 2004, 01:20:56 AM »

Vik,

Yeeessss - Hmmmm - OK.  I can see your point.  But the war was withot a doubt the catalyst to the search for justice by Josey.  The reason Josey had a price on his head was a direct result of his involvement in the war.  He just would not surrender.

But also remember when he was talking to the Boy - as I think I said before - 'they' (Josey and the boy) were heading into the Indian Nations to regroup, get the boy back to health and then they were coming back to "get Fletcher".  Circumstances (death of the boy) prevented that from happening.

Even when Josey was at Blood Butte he was heading off again - "man can't stay in one place too long", he said to Lone Watie in the shed at Blood Butte.

Ten Bears said: "You are the Gray Rider who did not surrender".  For Josey the war was not over.  "Lee mighta had to surrender but we sure as hell didn't !" - Boy at the handing in of their weapons to the Blue Scum Bellies.

Josey was only an Outlaw in the eyes of the Union.  Yes, Fletcher and Terrill came to him as they were chasing him but Josey, in the back of his mind, was always going back.

The war for Josey finished when Terrill died and Fletcher walked away.  Not before.  The end of the American Civil War was irrelevant to Josey Wales as his war was still going. And every action he took indicated to me that he was still planning his war against insurmontable odds.  And it just so happened along the way he helped a few "pilgrims".

Regards,

Wombat
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« Reply #8 on: October 12, 2004, 01:40:32 AM »

yes he was talking like that to the boy because all his mates had just died - and he was talking it up because thats what the boy wanted to hear

but i  think his attitude was changing when he met lone waite the settlers and the townssss folk and laura lee

i think he went to ten bears big and brave based on his reputation to get peace for all his new friends

his problem was always going to bountry hunters, terrill and fletcher following him where ever he went - but as you say that got sorted out

but i don't see no war as you see it

Quote
The end of the American Civil War was irrelevant to Josey Wales as his war was still going. And every action he took indicated to me that he was still planning his war against insurmontable odds.  And it just so happened along the way he helped a few "pilgrims

i think out of the ashes he found a new life pilgrims and all
« Last Edit: October 12, 2004, 01:57:47 AM by vik » Logged

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« Reply #9 on: October 12, 2004, 06:12:38 AM »

Vik,

Yes, I can definitely see where thou art coming from.

Your prespective is more humane in outcome than mine.  And perhaps that is because I am the ultimate military cynic with the male attributes of justice, vengence and the never give up attitude.  You have probably seen the comic of the crane (long necked bird type that is) with a frog in its mouth and the frog is trying to strangle the crane as the crane tries to swallow the frog !!  I say go FROG !!

I shall sleep on that and rise afresh on the morrow to once again clash sabre's !!!!! The clang of steel on steel is a serande not to be missed !!! LOL !

Regards,

Wombat

PS.  Yes, enjoyed the Shennandoh with Jimmie Stewart.  Great and tragic film. W.
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« Reply #10 on: October 12, 2004, 11:08:02 AM »

It´s not an anti-war movies per see, even though it got some anti-war statements.

The main reason it was thought of as such was because of the time it was made under (the vietnam conflict) in my humble opinion.  
The peace movements were very quick to point out statements and thats probably the main reason.
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And the plight of the Native Americans was also addressed - no justice there either.  And the Indians were required to adapt to the environment that was thrust upon them also and they shared (Lone Watie and Ten Bears) the same path that Josey travelled.

with a double whammy like that, (anti war/goverment and the native american plight) i can see why it was thought of as an "peace movement movie" by some (even though it also being shown to the soldiers in vietnam.)
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« Reply #11 on: October 13, 2004, 06:08:03 AM »

Billy Jack - now wasn't that film a 'peace' film ?  It is like statistics - one can make them do whatever one wants them to do.  A film can be interrpreted to suit many a cause.

As you say DWNN - the climate at the time was conducive to 'picking' the pieces out of TOJW to suit a cause.

I mean Apocolypse Now - was also seen as anti-war.  That I find a bit hard to swallow also.

Regards,

Wombat
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« Reply #12 on: October 16, 2004, 09:02:20 AM »

The beauty of Clint , is  he allows you to use your intelligence and take away what you want to take away , not preaching this and that , just telling it how it is.
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« Reply #13 on: December 08, 2004, 02:12:03 PM »

My two pences in this subject  ;)

There are two reasons this movie, to me, is a movie with strong anti-war-themes.

Tolerance: Tolerance is a very important ingredient of peace (and intolerance a frequent ingredience of hate/war). We have several groupes of people who join against a common ennemy, despite their differences. The first group is Josey (white) with Lone Watie (Cherokee) and Moonlight (Navajo). These three different cultures join against their common ennemy, the union. The second group is grandma from Kansas who joins Josey from Missouri because of the common ennemy the comancheros. Without the common ennemies there are chances these people would never have talked to eachother. This is especially true for grandma, who says:
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He's from Missouri, where they're all known to be killers of innocent men, women and children
She also has a distorted perception of her own "side", shown when she says:
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He was killed in the border war by ruffians. He died a proud member of senator Jim Lane's Redlegs, fighting for the just cause
which to Josey must have sounded like an insult.
   But despite their predjudices and differences,  all the involved members become a unity. This is expressed when Lone Watie says:
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Grandma says it's our home. It is all of ours.
Later, to demonstrate that the tolerance and acceptance is lived, not only talked about is that nice little scene:
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Grandma to LW: You know, we're sure going to show them redskins something tomorrow. No offence meant.
LW: None taken
The tolerance even reaches outside that little community to the Comanches, to Ten Bear
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Governements don't live together, people live together...I'm just giving you life and you're giving me life. And I'm saying men can live together without butchering one another
Short summary: if everyone were that tolerant, there would be no war!

The use of violence doesn't bring healing:
The second reason I think this is a film that should make us realize the futility of war is the story itself. After all, it's a peaceful farmer becoming a cold-blooded killer becoming (IMO) a peaceful farmer again. I know this can be understood in different ways, but I just want to try to explain what I see in this story.
To me there are a lot of reasons to believe Josey is not only becoming a killer for revenge, but because he's lost all reasons to live. And the violence he lives is nothing but a desperate attempt not to despair completely. Different scenes made me think that way. First, after he loses his family, he takes a pistol and trains, but even after that (obviously) rare outburst of violence, he doesn't feel any better (sits head down on the grave) . There never is a smile or a sign of relief in the scenes where they shoot and hang red-legs. Again, later, when Fletcher says:
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All that a fellow has to do is ride into that union camp... then he can take up his horse again and go home...
(later)
F: There's no way you're gonna get away
J: I reckon that's true
F: Good luck Josey
Josey (to me) looks desperate, lost, incredibly sad at the mention of "home", and then incredule at the "good luck" (good luck for what?). He's got no home anymore, afterall! Later:
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Kid: You can't get them all, Josey
J: That's a fact
K:Why are you doing this then?
J: Cause I've got nothing better to do
And, again, in the scene with Ten Bear
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TB: You may go in peace
J: I've got nowhere to go
And same scene, later the sentence that wraps it all up:
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...when all you have ever cared about has been butchered or raped.
The only time Josey shows a sign of relief after an act of violence is after he kills cpt Terrill. He looks like he's shaking off that nightmare he's been living. So, IMO, this shows that all the rest of the killing was not revenge, and didn't help Josey overcome the losing of his family either. The only death that mattered to him was this one. Josey became a killer of many, but this didn't solve his problem. Violence creates more violence, but doesn't bring peace on a tortured mind. Instead humanity and true honest feelings are lost:
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I guess we all died a little in that damn war
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« Reply #14 on: December 08, 2004, 04:58:18 PM »


Tolerance: Tolerance is a very important ingredient of peace (and intolerance a frequent ingredience of hate/war).

I agree. After all, if there were tolerance for slavery, nazism, communism and large scale terrorism, the United States wouldn't have participated in almost every war we've been involved in. Of course, all of Europe would be speaking German (why stop with Europe? If there were greater tolerance, the whole world would be speaking German), and the United States would likely be half the size it is now, with a separate country south of it where slavery was permitted. Yup, intolerance is a frequent ingredient of war. Thank God we've been intolerant. But wouldn't a world of kittens, butterflies and rainbows be sweet?

The Outlaw Josey Wales manages to be an antiwar film set in the Civil War era, but only because they never show the benefits of the Civil War. In fact, slavery is never brought up at all in the film. I think it's the only way they COULD have made an antiwar film set in that time period.
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« Reply #15 on: December 08, 2004, 05:31:41 PM »

I don't know if I'd call Josey a "cold blooded killer." He reacts out of revenge and because his life as a farmer is over.

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The only time Josey shows a sign of relief after an act of violence is after he kills cpt Terrill. He looks like he's shaking off that nightmare he's been living. So, IMO, this shows that all the rest of the killing was not revenge, and didn't help Josey overcome the losing of his family either.
I don't think Terrill's killing is going to help Josey get over losing his family either. I don't know what I make of his reaction to when Terrill is dead, but I'm not so sure it's relief. I've always read it as, "Wow, it's finally over." He traveled a long ways to get to that point, and no, he doesn't jump up and down to rejoice. He just moves on. To where? I don't know, it's never really told. I think there is some hope at the end of Josey Wales that maybe Josey will be okay, but it's not told straight out.

I think the only anti-war themes that exist in the movie is that it messed up Josey's life, who wasn't directly involved with the war to begin with. He was pulled in after his family was attacked.

But I don't think of Josey Wales as an "anti-war" movie. If the movie was making that point, that war shouldn't be fought because of messing up people's lives, then no wars would ever be fought and we'd all be in a heap of trouble, as Matt pointed out. Those themes are present, but if you tried to apply it to every circumstance, it'd become blind ideology.

BCM, your point about tolerance should probably be further explained if you're going to say that's what it takes to avoid war. Hitler wasn't a very tolerant man. War resulted because of this. No other choice existed in the matter. And he wasn't the type of man you could sit down with and talk things out. War will always be bad on the people involved, and in a perfect world we wouldn't have them.
« Last Edit: December 08, 2004, 05:39:56 PM by Christopher » Logged
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« Reply #16 on: December 08, 2004, 05:51:31 PM »

I don't know what I make of his reaction to when Terrill is dead, but I'm not so sure it's relief.

Christopher, remember this from Kill Bill Vol. 2?

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BUDD:  People got a job to do, they tend to live a little bit longer so they can do it. I've always figured that warriors and their enemies share the same relationship. So now that you're not gonna have to face your enemy no more on the battlefield, which "R" ya filled with? "Relief" or "regret"?

We quoted that passage in The Vengeance Theme thread. I would have posted a response in that thread, because I LOVE the question, but I keep changing my mind on what my answer is. I'm sure Josey feels both relief and regret (which is what Budd said to Elle Driver), but which did he feel more? Anyway, that's the thread to bring this discussion to, and I'd love to hear your thoughts on that some more over there.
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« Reply #17 on: December 08, 2004, 05:57:24 PM »

I'd forgotten about posting in that thread. Looks like I said a little of both. ;)

I don't believe it's full blown excitment though.

I wouldn't say he had much regret about killing Terrill.

I think I'd still go more with the "wow" factor. ;D
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« Reply #18 on: December 11, 2004, 02:31:33 AM »

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BCM, your point about tolerance should probably be further explained if you're going to say that's what it takes to avoid war. Hitler wasn't a very tolerant man. War resulted because of this.
Sorry, but I don't see where this contradicts my statement ???
I've explained (as wkc did) why I see Josey as "cold-blooded" in another thread.
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"He wondered what the man's name was and where he was from; and if he was really evil of heart, or what lies or threats had led him on the long march from his home: and if he would not really rather have stayed there in peace" Sam, TTT, written by JRR Tolkien, 1954
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« Reply #19 on: December 11, 2004, 09:33:46 AM »

I wasn't trying to contradict your statement. ;) I was agreeing with you on it. Only trying to make it a little clearer.
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