Friday, July 12, 2013

Never Remove The Mask Kemosabe

The Lone Ranger, Disney's Homage To Americana

Johnny Depp, reinterprets iconic western character Tonto, for Disney's homage to Americana "The Lone Ranger". In doing so he did something I do all the time when I blog.  I use images as a writing device. Johnny Depp, used Kirby Sattler's art, and incorporated "I Am Crow" to depict a character of his own creation, he used it as a "device" for his interpretation of Tonto, faithful Indian companion of the Lone Ranger. Actor's will put their own stamp on a character. For instance which do you prefer Willie Wonka, and the Chocolate Factory or Charlie and the Chocolate Factory? The iconic Gene Wilder's version or Johnny Depp's reinterpretation?  There is bound to be a comparison when ever there is a remake of iconic material. Johnny Depp is a character actor, so he isn't mimicking another actor's interpretation of the same character, he's putting his own stamp on the character.  I believe this is in part, because he respect's fellow actor's body of work. I have not read one review that asks: Why didn't John Depp mimic iconic Jay Silverheels' version of Tonto?  I remember when Ricky Gervise accused Johnny Depp of phoning in his contribution to the movie "The Tourist". That wasn't the case with The Lone Ranger, he went all in.

There is so much going on in the movie The Lone Ranger, it's busy, which is why in my opinion the movie ran so long - over 2 hours. The movie's demographic appears to be teenage A.D.D. suffers, but it would be torture to hold their teenage butt's in a theater seat for that length of time. The movie begins in 1933 San Francisco at a carnival sideshow. An old west tent that is holding the images of our recent past, for instance a bison that is already passing from the American consciousness, and the noble Indian (Americana). The director employs an old story telling device. Think Emilio Estevez,  and his character Brushy Bill Robert's recounting his life in the movie Young Guns. The Lone Ranger also uses flash backs to explain the plot of the movie. The plot hinges on Justice vs Revenge theme. There are other themes running through the movie, for instance, American Indian stoicism, the warrior ethos, American naivete, and a cannibal scene.  The Lone Ranger isn't a movie for young children.  Despicable Me 2 debuted the same weekend as The Lone Ranger.  Despicable Me 2 was the box office winner the weekend it debuted.  American's should take heart.  American parent's still know what's appropriate for their younger children to be viewing. If asked I am sure Johnny Depp would agree. This isn't a movie for younger children. When this movie makes it to cable -television, I am betting the cannibal scene will be edited out.

I don't want to spoil the movie for people who haven't seen it yet, but there is some notable dialog. The title of this post. Tonto: Never remove the mask. Is that a hat tip to The Dark Knight, and Kick Ass (Outlaws)? The need for a mask to work outside the system, when the system has been corrupted. The Lone Ranger was the first to don the mask.  When John Reid DA (The Lone Ranger) pleads with the chief of a Comanche tribe not to retaliate against the attack on his people by responding to the US. Cavalry, his response was stoic, and set the theme for the Indian's involved in the conflict. He replied "It doesn't matter we are already ghost".  The warrior ethos theme is both present in the Texas Rangers, and the Comanche.  The Texas Rangers "they died with their boots on"  The warrior ethos involves deciding how one will die, and the honor of choosing to die in battle. Think of the movie "300" and King Leonidas, when he tells the traitor of the Spartan's at the end of the movie "May You Live Forever". And finally the cannibal scene. There are old legendary accounts of (some) American Indian tribes practicing cannibalism. Eating the heart of their defeated enemy to gain their bravery, and strength after their death (legend, myth). There is no way that Disney was going to have anyone portraying an American Indian played as a cannibal, but apparently the director felt it was necessary for the old west ambiance.  Tonto explains during the movie that nature is out of balance (which involves scary bunnies) hat tip to Monty Python? Tonto through out the movie, and up until the end, believes they are tracking evil spirits. Tonto believes in order to kill these evil spirits it requires a silver bullet*. It's one of these evil spirits "villains" that cut's out and eat's the heart of a Texas Ranger in the beginning of the movie. Which brings us back to Justice vs Vengeance, and the importance of why the Lone Ranger's mask must never be removed.

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The Lone Ranger, has been reviewed, and it's been categorized with the flop White House Down.  It doesn't belong in that category. This movie might have been too ambitious-busy, it does deliver what it promises "Americana" in spades.  White House Down, belongs with the flops Gigli and Howard the Duck.  Some reviews suggest it missed the mark with movie goers, because of the resurrection of such an old icon as the Lone Ranger. That there isn't a demographic for the updated Lone Ranger movie. So far the movie has made over 81 million dollars world wide. Young Gun's is a good example of a successful western based on a legendary character "Billy The Kid" looking for his long lost promised pardon from the Governor of New Mexico.  When I read reviews, that claim the reason The Lone Ranger, wasn't a box office success was, because The Lone Ranger is an old iconic western figure, that doesn't play to modern demographics. I am reminded that Young Guns was a western based on the same kind of character, as was Wyatt Earp and the movie Tombstone.  It's a superficial throw away observation. I have read a review on Huffington Post that stated the movie was about manifest destiny (duh) but the reviewer still found the movie entertaining. That's called phoning it in.

"If You Don't Watch Out Captain Benge Will Get You"  Never say Benge, there were rumors of cannibalism when "Cherokee Bob Benge" attacked settlers in central Appalachia. Red haired half brother of Sequoyah, inventor of the Cherokee alphabet. Traditionally American Indians, rely on oral tradition to pass down their culture and customs through story telling. Another hat tip to Americana by Disney in the making of The Lone Ranger. 

For a review by an actual Comanche, you can read Bad Eagle "Johnny Depp's New Comanche "Tonto" and Johnny Depp, LaDonna Harris, The Lone Ranger and the Comanches. 

I recommend The Lone Ranger. In the words of the immortal Hunter Thompson "Buy the ticket, take the ride".

 The Lone Ranger, The Ultimate Outlaw Trailer 2013.

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