Thursday, September 3, 2015

"It ain't dyin' I'm talkin' about, Woodrow, it's livin'."

     Or, why Lonesome Dove is the best movie in the history of ever.

     It's no secret that I love Lonesome Dove dearly. If you've hung around my blog, you know that. If you've seen the pictures on the wall above my desk, you know it. If you spend enough time around me, you'll probably hear me quote the characters. It's my story. I JUST LOVE IT SO MUCH. Occasionally I just need to take a moment and express that. Thus, I'm sitting here listening to the LD soundtrack and unloading these pressing emotions on all of you. :-D

     What brought this all on again, you ask? Well, I just finished watching the series the other day. I guess that was it. This was my second viewing, and I loved it even more than the first time. Which is significant, because I adored it the first time. That was two years ago, when I was fourteen. I was sick that day, and I watched all seven hours of it in one stretch. It was epicness. I had never seen anything so mind-blowingly amazing. (Though, I'm not sure I whole-heartedly recommend showing Lonesome Dove to any old fourteen-year-old. I was an unusual fourteen-year-old, having been already heavily influenced by Mattie Ross, but probably most wouldn't fully appreciate Lonesome Dove for everything it is.)
     This time, I was laid low with my chronic seasonal allergies. I was feeling lousy. It was just me in the house, and I had no motivation to do anything I did the only thing I could do. I broke out the Lonesome Dove DVDs. I let myself fall into this legendary Old West world, when men were men, savagery ran rampant, but good always triumphed over evil in the end because that's the way things work.

     I think I got a lot more out of Lonesome Dove this second time. (Not that I didn't get a lot out of it before -- but I was younger then, and besides I think you probably catch more every time you watch it.) I know the characters now -- they're my friends. I understand their feelings. I FEEL THEIR PAIN. It hurts me to watch them make wrong choices, it gladdens me to see them happy, it makes me sad when they have to say goodbye to things they love. I care about them. I love them.


     Watching the story play out before me once again, this story I know so well, was like going back to an old familiar place I hadn't been to in awhile, but that I'd missed sorely. And, being the emotional sixteen-year-old girl that I am, I cried. I don't mean I teared up once in a while; when I say I cried I mean I wept. The tears ran. I cried when Gus read the grave marker Woodrow put on Deets' grave. I cried when Woodrow beat the living daylight out of that snotty army scout who tried to take Dish's horse. I cried when July Johnson walked into that little doctor's room where Elmira lay and said, "I found you, Ellie." I cried when Gus rescued Lorena, and I cried when he left Lorena with Clara in Nebraska, riding off across the wide prairie. I think I basically cried all the way through the second half.

     I SOBBED over Newt. I'm not even kidding. I think I'm a little bit in love with Newt.

     After accomplishing the impressive feat of watching this series all the way through for the second time, I made an official decision: Lonesome Dove is my favorite movie ever.

     Some people might think that's a little strange. (Especially considering the fact that I'm a sixteen-year-old girl -- apparently sixteen-year-old girls don't normally watch stuff like this. Well, I've never claimed to be normal!) Why is it I love this movie so much? It's about disgusting men who spit tobacco juice and drink whiskey and talk about inappropriate things. It's about prostitutes. It's about nasty mean Indians who do terrible things. Why would I like something like that, anyway???

     Well, let me tell you something. All this, in part, is why I love it so much. By saying I love these characters, I don't mean I agree with or approve of every single little thing they do. I DON'T. They all have failings. Because they're human. You don't love a person because they're perfect. You love them for who they are regardless. Yes, these men are disgusting. This is the old west, people. They were cowboys. They were brought up in dust and they were probably never taught any better than to drink and curse and take advantage of women. But true chivalry comes out in spite of all that; in a place and culture where women were good for little more than a man's pleasure, there were men who saw their real worth. 

     Lorena: (to Gus, about Clara) "She'll know what I am."
     Gus: "That's right. She'll see that you're a fine human being."

     That's why I don't think Lonesome Dove should be labeled 'inappropriate' because of the predominance of prostitutes in the story. In fact, it bothers me when people say that. Of course it's not appropriate for all audiences; it's not a movie for young children because of many things. The story is just too heavy. But heavy doesn't always mean bad. Gus's friendship with Lorie emphasizes the very fact that she is more than the profession she's fallen into. He cares for her because of the person she is. He risks his life to protect her, after all, and he stays with her when she's got no one else in the whole world. And that, my friends, is powerful. 

I was gonna go with all sepia-toned pictures in this post. Then I saw this one and thought, well, forget that!

        When it comes right down to it, the reason I love this story is so much is because of the characters in it. They're so real it hurts. They're so flawed, they're perfect. And once you know them, you won't ever forget them.

     I could talk about Dish, and his unwavering devotion to Lorena even though she hardly even notices him. I could talk about Newt and how he "ain't kin to nobody in this world" (though I'd probably start crying). I could talk about July and how I love him even though he wastes his time going after a woman who doesn't care whether he lives or dies, much less the pain she's caused him. Heck, I could probably spend a long time talking about any one of these characters, but it ain't necessary. Just go watch the series. It's worth it. It's a good story.

     So there you have it. Let's just say that's a few of the reasons why Lonesome Dove is my favorite movie ever. :-)


  1. Ohhhhhhh:D

    SO. You know that this isn't exactly my favorite Western ever, but I REALLY enjoyed reading your thoughts on it. They put a different perspective on it.

    I can understand why people wouldn't like this movie due to the prostitution, mainly just because what bugs me about the fact that it's there is that it's never really portrayed as wrong for the men to take advantage of prostitutes. I mean, even Newt…that scene was really sad for me, because Newt is in general such a SWEETHEART and so innocent and…dawww. And it was just sad to see his innocence taken, BUT, like you said, it's real. That was the culture in which he lived, he didn't really know anything else. So yeah. That aspect of it, I'll admit, does hinder my liking it just a little, but I really like how you put it: "They're so flawed, they're perfect." That's deep, and very true:)

    I KNOW. I KNOW. WHEN WOODROW BEATS THE HECK OUTTA THAT CAVALRY DUDE. It. Is So. Perfect. One of my favorite Woodrow scenes:D

    And *sob* Newt…and Woodrow never tells him…the pain…

    So ya know I have this thing for that last line of Gus's: "Been quite a party, ain't it?" IT'S JUST SO GOOD AND FEELSY AND HEARTBREAKING AND GAHHH. It might actually be one of the single most powerful lines I have ever heard.

    And then Woodrow works so hard to bring Gus back to the place where he wanted to be…that part in the river…and beating off the crows…and then THE GLADE AND THE MARKER… I'm having trouble *sniffle*

    Thanks for this post! 'T'was fantastic:)

    1. Olivia, thanks for your comment. I needed emotional support from somebody. ;-)

      Lonesome Dove and I have had a rough journey together. I remember the first time Mama brought it into the house (she and my dad had watched it before, when it was on TV) and I absolutely HATED it. So it's really super ironic that it's my favorite movie now. ;-D It's just...unbeatable. The best thing I've ever seen. Nothing else touches me in such a deep way, I don't think.

      I know -- I've had trouble with the prostitution aspect of the story too. It's wrong, and we know it's wrong; but for these men, that sort of thing was a natural part of their lifestyle. It was just...normal. That was the way they lived. But oh, I hate to see Newt acting like that too. Mainly because Newt is my darling and it's sad that he doesn't know any better.

      I don't know; to me, that aspect of the movie doesn't mess with the fact that this is an AMAZING story.Yes, it's unfortunate, but it's also true.

      Yes, I know you have a thing for that line of Gus's. :-) THAT WHOLE SCENE IS JUST TOO MUCH. When Gus closes his eyes, and Woodrow thinks he's gone and touches his head and whispers, "Augustussss...." *sobs quietly* THAT'S my favorite Woodrow scene. Because he cries. And when the Captain cries we all have to cry!

      I also love the part where Woodrow comes back to the herd and tells all the men about Gus. "Stubbornness -- that's what killed him." There is Woodrow, talking about stubbornness when he won't even admit Newt is his own son. Ah, the irony.

      Annnnnd then there's the whole journey back to Texas, which rips me to shreds every time. I think I forgot how strangely awesome Woodrow is. You don't really see it until the second half. He's really a very strong person.

      Buuuuut Gus is my favorite. :-) Because for all his failings, all his issues...he has a heart of gold. He CARES about people.

      Thank YOU for reading it! :-)

  2. Emma,
    That feeling of watching a movie and being blown away/soaked with emotion and then watching it again (and again...) and being drowned with it has to equal one of the best things ever!

    I want to see this muchly indeed! I even got it from the library after your western week but then it had to go back before I had the chance to see it. Ugh.

    That is so neat how you watched this when you were fourteen! My next sister is fifteen and she is one of my favorite partners in crime to watch movies as we tend to go completely batty over the same stories. :) Even more interesting, movies like I guess this to be (though we usually watch "classics"), but you know the gripping, not totally romantic and "hard-riding" ones are some of our very favorites to watch! A LOT of ramblings, but I thought it was so fun that we like the same sort of stories. :)

    Everything you said -- everything -- but especially about how Gus cares for Lorie was so masterfully penned!

    And Newt... Again I haven't seen it but if he is as cute as in his photo (and I mean cute as in puppy dog cute which is a compliment from me :)) he must be indeed wonderful.

    1. Eowyn, thank you!! :-)

      I do highly recommend this miniseries. But I also have to warn you -- it's not an easy ride. There's a looooot of violence, lots of talk of prostitution, and quite a bit of language. Also, the story is just very deep. That's why I said I wouldn't give it to any fourteen-year-old to watch. BUT if you can handle it, then it's an amazing experience. Six hours of the best television ever produced, in my opinion. :-D

      Newt IS wonderful. He's one of my favorite characters....which is saying something, because I love all these people so very much! Newt is my darling. :-D

  3. One of these days, I WILL see this.

    I loved what you said here:

    this legendary Old West world, when men were men, savagery ran rampant, but good always triumphed over evil in the end because that's the way things work.

    Yes! All of that is a huge part of why I adore westerns.

    1. Yes, you WILL. Because anyone who loves westerns as much as you do HAS to watch Lonesome Dove!!! :-)


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