Tom Hanks' "News Of The World"

lupaglupa

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Having been on the mountains in and around Lake George (and even to the actual cave which was Cooper's inspiration for the cave in the book) I'm not going to agree that there is no where suitable. But it was likely easier to find locations in North Carolina. Still, all those rhododendrons made me laugh. I'm sure being able to pay workers less was a part of what moved film making to a wider variety of states, though the biggest influence was probably the huge tax breaks offered to film companies. Still, both California and New York are popular shooting sites. As noted by several folks above, most viewers don't know what the vegetation should be and are happy to accept what's on the screen as realistic.
 

James N.

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From what I recall of Robert Caro's first LBJ book the current brush and scrubby tree infested Texas Hill Country bears little resemblance to the Hill Country of the 19th Century, which was grassland before the Americans overgrazed it and ruined the soil.
The trouble with News... is that there's neither brush and scrubby tree nor grassland - it's arid rocky New Mexico semi-desert.
 

lupaglupa

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I'm not that offended when characters from the CW era (and other historic times) are portrayed as racist. I'm actually more likely to roll my eyes when Hollywood goes the other way and shows a character from decades ago as an enlightened non-racist. When compared to a person of our current time, most people from the Civil War era would be considered racists. Even those who pushed for abolition had views about persons of African descent that we would find ridiculous. So when the hero of a film set in that time starts spouting off some "we are all brothers" dialog like they just walked out of a sensitivity training it grates on my nerves. I don't know if it's the actors who don't want to be caught depicting real attitudes or the scriptwriters who think the hero has to be heroic by our standards rather than those of the time.
 

James N.

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IM000596.JPG

Having been on the mountains in and around Lake George (and even to the actual cave which was Cooper's inspiration for the cave in the book) I'm not going to agree that there is no where suitable. But it was likely easier to find locations in North Carolina. Still, all those rhododendrons made me laugh. I'm sure being able to pay workers less was a part of what moved film making to a wider variety of states, though the biggest influence was probably the huge tax breaks offered to film companies. Still, both California and New York are popular shooting sites. As noted by several folks above, most viewers don't know what the vegetation should be and are happy to accept what's on the screen as realistic.
I don't know whether or not THIS is what you saw, but my understanding is that this cleft on a pile of rocks "island" is it; it's almost inaccessible amid now-abandoned urban industrial ruin and certainly no place to film a scene! (This is in Schenectady or some other rust-belt portion of the Hudson River Valley.)

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Rusk County Avengers

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I once took your viewpoint, but after travesties like Matthew McConaughey's and other recent "slave" pics and even back as far as silly Cold Mountain I've become VERY jaundiced in my old age. Not every Southerner has to be Ashley Wilkes, but they don't have to be Simon Legree either, and today in our smothering climate of Political Correctness the tendency of Hollywood is far more towards the latter than the former.

Keep that awesome preaching a coming!

You'd think some films that absolutely require a Confederate bad guy would at least make them halfway sympathetic.
 

James N.

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I'm not that offended when characters from the CW era (and other historic times) are portrayed as racist. I'm actually more likely to roll my eyes when Hollywood goes the other way and shows a character from decades ago as an enlightened non-racist. When compared to a person of our current time, most people from the Civil War era would be considered racists. Even those who pushed for abolition had views about persons of African descent that we would find ridiculous. So when the hero of a film set in that time starts spouting off some "we are all brothers" dialog like they just walked out of a sensitivity training it grates on my nerves. I don't know if it's the actors who don't want to be caught depicting real attitudes or the scriptwriters who think the hero has to be heroic by our standards rather than those of the time.
Unless they're actors of immense stature like John Wayne or maybe Brad Pitt in our generation they have almost NO control over the script and plotline - unless they're also one of its' producers. Most are satisfied just to be employed, though they might tweak a line of dialog here and there if given the chance. I'm reminded of Helena Bonham Carter in the Harry Potter movies who said she inserted impromptu lines wherever possible to flesh out her character's criminal instability and insanity.
 

Texas Johnny

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Tom Hanks' new western News of The World is yet another contemporary semi-political diatribe with a tenuous connection to the Civil War and The worst thing - other than the mangy ex-Confederates, that is - is that like both movie versions of True Grit the makers of this made NO effort at all to accurately portray the topography where it allegedly takes place, North and Central Texas in 1870. It begins in a reasonable facsimile of Wichita Falls along a much-too-large and flooding river that I suppose is supposed to be the Red where Kidd first encounters the girl, who is much too clean-looking to have been a captive of the Kiowa. From there they go first to Dallas, complete with a cattle drive passing through it and MOUNTAINS off in the distance! He has taken her there to find the nearest Federal Reconstruction troops to turn her over to. Failing that, he decides to take her to her relatives in Castroville in the Hill Country. Along the way they follow some river through the desert with those same mountains still off in the distance; on their trip they encounter more Kiowa. Naturally Castroville looks NOTHING like the Hill Country; San Antonio comes off a little better, though there's no sign of the Alamo anywhere. I stayed through the credits to see where this was in fact filmed: NEW MEXICO, which as we all should know looks little like North Texas, especially the mountains!
Overall I enjoyed the movie, I thought Hanks and the young girl were excellent in it, but like you I was bothered by the geography of it. Being a resident of Central Texas I had to laugh at much of the scenery. I am still looking for those mountains and deserts as portrayed. Overall though my wife and I enjoyed the movie.
 

Vicksburger

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Tom Hanks' new western News of The World is yet another contemporary semi-political diatribe with a tenuous connection to the Civil War and Reconstruction. Hanks portrays a character named Captain Kidd - but obviously no relation to the legendary pirate of the same name! - who is a veteran of the 1st Texas Infantry who is now "getting by" reading semi-current newspapers to audiences of settlers on the Texas frontier in 1870, hence the title. I don't know just how authentic this mode of support might have been, but since various lecturers, evangelists, and hucksters performed in a similar manner, it is at least plausible. Among his travels from community to community he encounters many rough "frontier" types, among whom many are former Confederates who are, other than the Captain himself, almost universally portrayed as racists at best and outright pedophiles at worst who naturally get what's coming to them.

The best thing about the film is Hanks' co-star, a presumably twelve year-old actress named Helena Zengel who plays a German immigrant captive rescued from the Kiowa and whom Kidd takes on a long journey to reunite with her relatives in the Texas Hill Country. The worst thing - other than the mangy ex-Confederates, that is - is that like both movie versions of True Grit the makers of this made NO effort at all to accurately portray the topography where it allegedly takes place, North and Central Texas in 1870. It begins in a reasonable facsimile of Wichita Falls along a much-too-large and flooding river that I suppose is supposed to be the Red where Kidd first encounters the girl, who is much too clean-looking to have been a captive of the Kiowa. From there they go first to Dallas, complete with a cattle drive passing through it and MOUNTAINS off in the distance! He has taken her there to find the nearest Federal Reconstruction troops to turn her over to. Failing that, he decides to take her to her relatives in Castroville in the Hill Country. Along the way they follow some river through the desert with those same mountains still off in the distance; on their trip they encounter more Kiowa. Naturally Castroville looks NOTHING like the Hill Country; San Antonio comes off a little better, though there's no sign of the Alamo anywhere. I stayed through the credits to see where this was in fact filmed: NEW MEXICO, which as we all should know looks little like North Texas, especially the mountains!

The story itself isn't bad, assuming you can pretend it's happening somewhere else, and Hanks and especially the girl are very good, believable and ultimately likeable characters. After my recent reading about conditions on the Texas frontier during Reconstruction and desperadoes like Ben Bickerstaff, Bob Lee, and John Wesley Hardin it makes some of the characters they meet seem more plausible, though as usual for a movie they're far too exaggerated. Also, the stupidity of bringing them to Dallas - what happened to Fort Worth, where the cattle drive belongs; or even better and more correct, Fort Griffin, which I doubt the novelist who wrote the book this was taken from had even heard of. There is also a Hell-roaring camp of buffalo "hide skinners" that might've also not been too out-of-place in the Fort Griffin area, though once again the shenanigans that occur there strain credulity a bit too much. I won't bother you with any more details of the plot in case you decide to check it out for yourself, but you get the idea; surprisingly, I enjoyed it overall and recommend it for the acting and characterizations of the principals, but with the obvious reservations I've mentioned here.
I would never waste my money to go see a Tom Hanks movie. To paraphrase what my dad used to say about Lloyd Bridges's movies: "If Tom Hanks is in it, it ain't any good."
 

James N.

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Overall I enjoyed the movie, I thought Hanks and the young girl were excellent in it, but like you I was bothered by the geography of it. Being a resident of Central Texas I had to laugh at much of the scenery. I am still looking for those mountains and deserts as portrayed. Overall though my wife and I enjoyed the movie.
One thing I realize I hadn't bothered to mention so far is that - at least the way it's presented - the settings and terrain are a big part of what transpires and how the plot and action develop, especially the hardships they encounter along the journey. I should also have mentioned the similarities to the fate of the little girl Johanna here to the historical wartime recapture of Cynthia Ann Parker, better known as the mother of Comanche Chief Quannah Parker, in Texas ca. 1860; at the time, this was really big news.

Cynthia Ann had been captured as a young girl by an unknown Indian raiding party from settler Fort Parker in 1836, one of the few survivors of a massacre there. She was raised by Indians, winding up married to a Comanche chief; she may have been traded to the Comanche, a not unusual practice among the tribes. Much later, Texas Rangers raided their camp, killing her husband and "rescuing" Cynthia Ann and her infant daughter; son Quannah either was absent or got away. Her reaction was the same as in the movie - she chopped off her hair in mourning and repeatedly tried to escape. She too was taken to live with relatives, but pined and wasted away, dying soon after her daughter Prairie Flower ca.1862 or '63. The main difference between her story and Johanna's is that she had been essentially raised by Indians and lived much longer among them, so had a longer period in which to forget her lesser white past. In any event, Texans of the time, especially along the frontier, were very interested in her fate and that of other captives and were very solicitous about helping her, qualities noticeably lacking in almost anybody in the film other than Capt. Kidd and a lady friend of his seen briefly.
 
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Zella

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I thought the book News of the World was great and I love Tom Hanks so I'm definitely going to see it.

And don't get me started on bad scenery in movies....
I really enjoyed the book too! Not sure if I'm going to bother with the movie, but I do like Paulette Jiles's writing. Have you ever read her book Enemy Women, about Civil War-era Missouri? That was the first book of hers I read. It's also excellent.
Thai's one of my favorite examples - as a native New Yorker who has spent lots of time in the South I can tell you it looked nothing like our mountains! I got about 10 minutes in the film and thought - did they film this in the Carolinas?
This made me laugh really hard because I'm originally from Western North Carolina, and I watch Last of the Mohicans when I'm feeling homesick. I have avoided watching other things set in Southern Appalachia that were clearly not filmed there (here's looking at you, Cold Mountain) because those aren't my mountains, but it never occurred to me before today that someone more familiar with New York would have the same reaction to LHOTM. :D
 

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I don't know whether or not THIS is what you saw, but my understanding is that this cleft on a pile of rocks "island" is it; it's almost inaccessible amid now-abandoned urban industrial ruin and certainly no place to film a scene! (This is in Schenectady or some other rust-belt portion of the Hudson River Valley.)

View attachment 388499

In the interest of geographical accuracy, Schenectady is in the Mohawk River Valley, not the Hudson River Valley. The Mohawk River empties into the Hudson at Cohoes, about 14 miles east of Schenectady.
 

lupaglupa

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Sorry - I meant to respond to James N.'s post and I forgot. The small opening in the photograph is called "Cooper's Cave" in local tourist literature as they like to say the cave inspired Cooper in writing Last of the Mohicans. It's not possible to see the entire cave as the dam for the paper mill has flooded a lot of it. It's on the Hudson River, just south of Glens Falls.
 

James N.

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In the interest of geographical accuracy, Schenectady is in the Mohawk River Valley, not the Hudson River Valley. The Mohawk River empties into the Hudson at Cohoes, about 14 miles east of Schenectady.
Sorry - I meant to respond to James N.'s post and I forgot. The small opening in the photograph is called "Cooper's Cave" in local tourist literature as they like to say the cave inspired Cooper in writing Last of the Mohicans. It's not possible to see the entire cave as the dam for the paper mill has flooded a lot of it. It's on the Hudson River, just south of Glens Falls.
Thanks for the correction - I remembered seeing it during a vacation that took me from Newark all the way to Ticonderoga and back, so didn't remember its exact location. One of the highlights of the return trip was a visit to Schenectady's historic Stockade District (unfortunately NOT the derelict town itself); I must've visited Glens Falls right before, according to the numbers of my digital photos. I'd visited the Mohawk Valley on a previous trip, from Albany out to Fort Stanwix NHS visiting sites relating to Sir William Johnson, the Iroquois, and the Revolution in those parts.
 

Henry G

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I just realized as I browsed this thread that today is the one year anniversary of the death of the great Charles Portis. Last year in the New York Times book review was written a truly excellent appreciation of the man and his work.
 

Dave D

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I just saw "News of the World" on HBO yesterday - I don't agree with Tom Hanks' politics but I think he is a good actor; his portrayals are believable. I thought the movie was quite entertaining.

The movie is set in the midst of the Reconstruction in Texas and there are some interactions between ex-Confederates and Federal occupation troops. Hanks has to demonstrate that he has taken the oath of allegiance to the government and explain his activities and business when questioned by the Federals.

There are some scenes that seem to portray that ownership of firearms by ex-Confederates was prohibited. I know that ex-Confederates were disenfranchised from voting and in some places their land and property was confiscated but don't think I have heard of a firearms prohibition. Were firearms prohibited during Reconstruction?
 
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