Well, since there’s nothing new that’s been posted all day; and since it’s the weekend and this is a western-themed blog, here’s a break from politics: The Lone Ranger.
I saw a matinee of the new movie yesterday because I had nothing better to do; and in light of all the panning it’s received from professional critics, I went into it with low expectations. Because of that, I wasn’t disappointed.
To be sure, it’s a pretty bad movie with no clear direction as to how it wanted to define itself.
Since it’s produced by Disney, and since its traditional roots of yesteryear are grounded in appealing to kids, I found the violence in it distasteful (Cavendish eats the heart of the Lone Ranger’s brother- oops, is that a spoiler? Not shown, but implied, nevertheless). The final act is just comical, over-the-top comic-book action, with a bit of slapstick.
I feel like the movie had a hard time defining itself and what it wanted to be; and what audience it wanted to appeal toward.
The movie should more properly be called “Tanto”, since Johnny Depp’s portrayal of the Indian “sidekick” takes center stage and is the real star of the movie. Armie Hammer is duller than baking soda and plays the title character like a foppish dolt. Absolutely unheroic; and they make a mockery of the Lone Ranger’s idealism to uphold the law (in the original TV series, I remember that the reason the Lone Ranger uses silver bullets is because it was a reminder to him that every life is sacred, and to use his bullets sparingly).
The director, writers, and producers failed to do the Lone Ranger legend/tradition justice in their attempt to reimagine the legend and make it appealing to a newer generation. I think they sacrificed the purity of spirit and nobility of the original tv and radio series. Sure, much of the original is dated now; and can even be cringe-worthy when viewed today. But honor and respect for the rule of law should never go out of vogue. This movie does nothing to capture the spirit and essence of the Lone Ranger message to make it “sexy” for modern society. Instead, the movie mocks the Lone Ranger’s idealism as naiveté. Perhaps in the real world, it is indeed that. But that’s why we have escapist movies where heroes can be pure and uncorruptible.
The “original” actors of Clayton Moore and Jay Silverheels took their position as role models to children very seriously. So much so as to try and live by this creed:
That to have a friend, a man must be one.
That all men are created equal and that everyone has within himself the power to make this a better world.
That God put the firewood there, but that every man must gather and light it himself.
In being prepared physically, mentally, and morally to fight when necessary for what is right.
That a man should make the most of what equipment he has.
That ‘this government of the people, by the people, and for the people’ shall live always.
That men should live by the rule of what is best for the greatest number.
That sooner or later…somewhere…somehow…we must settle with the world and make payment for what we have taken.
That all things change but truth, and that truth alone, lives on forever.
In my Creator, my country, my fellow man.
Fran Striker and George W. Trendle, the original creators, had specific traits in mind that the Lone Ranger should embody:
The Lone Ranger is never seen without his mask or a disguise.
With emphasis on logic, The Lone Ranger is never captured or held for any length of time by lawmen, avoiding his being unmasked.
The Lone Ranger always uses perfect grammar and precise speech completely devoid of slang and colloquial phrases, at all times.
When he has to use guns, The Lone Ranger never shoots to kill, but rather only to disarm his opponent as painlessly as possible.
Logically, too, The Lone Ranger never wins against hopeless odds; i.e., he is never seen escaping from a barrage of bullets merely by riding into the horizon.
Even though The Lone Ranger offers his aid to individuals or small groups, the ultimate objective of his story never fails to imply that their benefit is only a by-product of a greater achievement—the development of the west or our country. His adversaries are usually groups whose power is such that large areas are at stake.
Adversaries are never other than American to avoid criticism from minority groups. There were exceptions to this rule. He sometimes battled foreign agents, though their nation of origin was generally not named. One exception was helping the Mexican Juarez against French troops of Emperor Maximilian, as occurred in radio episodes such as “Supplies for Juarez” (18 September 1939), “Hunted by Legionnaires” (20 September 1939) and “Lafitte’s Reinforcements” (22 September 1939).
Names of unsympathetic characters are carefully chosen, never consisting of two names if it can be avoided, to avoid even further vicarious association—more often than not, a single nickname is selected.
The Lone Ranger never drinks or smokes and saloon scenes are usually interpreted as cafes, with waiters and food instead of bartenders and liquor.
Criminals are never shown in enviable positions of wealth or power, and they never appear as successful or glamorous.
If the creative forces behind this new Lone Ranger movie can’t pay homage and honor these ideas, why not simply call it something else instead of trying to market and piggyback off of Lone Ranger nostalgia while desecrating all that lies at its heart?
Perhaps Tim Tebow would have been better suited to play either of the two title characters.
All my whining complaints said, because I did go in with low expectations, I thought the movie was enjoyably silly. I liked the William Tell overture inclusion. The “Heigh-ho Silver” line at the end was funny. I haven’t seen the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise aside from bits and pieces; but apparently Johnny Depp’s Tanto is essentially Captain Jack Sparrow in Indian getup.
If the American western is to make a revival on the Hollywood big screen, this movie probably won’t be the catalyst for it.
We did a top 10 list of favorite western movies from FA readers, once.
I would love to hear what westerns today’s FA readers enjoy, if any.
A former fetus, the “wordsmith from nantucket” was born in Phoenix, Arizona in 1968. Adopted at birth, wordsmith grew up a military brat. He achieved his B.A. in English from the University of California, Los Angeles (graduating in the top 97% of his class), where he also competed rings for the UCLA mens gymnastics team. The events of 9/11 woke him from his political slumber and malaise. Currently a personal trainer and gymnastics coach.
The wordsmith has never been to Nantucket.