I remember hearing my daddy talk about this movie years ago, once when we we were at dinner with some of the far-away cousins. The conversation turned to movies, and Daddy brought up The Man From Snowy River, remembering the famous scene where Jim Craig rides his horse down the mountain after the brumbies. I listened, interested, and wondered why I'd never seen this before. I was probably about fourteen when I watched it first. Then, it was a 'meh' movie, with a slow storyline and sappy love story (and can we talk about the dorky 80's soundtrack?) My daddy went on and on about what a classic it was... Mama rolled her eyes...I just thought it was boring.
It wasn't until a really super awesome person by the name of Rachel gave me a copy and I watched it a second time that I realized, at fourteen, I had a lot to learn.
Because The Man From Snowy River IS a classic. (Can't you just tell that by the title? And for heavens' sake, the dreamy silhouetted picture on the cover????) It's a beautiful cinematic masterpiece that everybody ought to see when they're a kid, and if you didn't, then you should see it now asap because it's just plain gorgeous.
Set in the Australian outback, the story follows young Jim Craig as he leaves his home in the mountains and goes to work for a wealthy cattle baron, falls in love with said cattle baron's daughter, and goes from being a 'lad' to being 'the man from snowy river.'
Jim Craig is an absolute angel-faced darling. He's more than a pretty face too; he's honest and kind and he's got guts. It is plainly impossible not to love Jim. (Plus he's got a pretty nice hat.)
Kirk Douglas plays a double role -- Jim's quirky one-legged mountain friend, Spur, who's been picking away at the same old decrepit gold mine for eons; and Spur's twin brother, Mr. Harrison, the wealthy rancher Jim goes to work for. Spur is a jokester and an optimist; Mr. Harrison is stern and obstinate. I'd rather have Spur over for dinner.
I'm actually not a huge fan of Jessica. She kind of annoys me. Maybe part of it is her over-abundant eyeliner? The only reason I like her at all is because Jim likes her, so there's gotta be something special about her. Their romance is very sweet, though, and one of my favorite scenes in the movie is when Jim is trying to teach her how to tie a halter and she's not getting it. And the way Jim says "Chessica" in his Aussie accent....oh, Jim, you're so adorable.
One of my favorites is Clancy, Jim's father's old 'mate' who comes to help Harrison's men track down the lost horse. Clancy's a delightfully salty, wholesome red-headed character with a reputation as legendary as the mountains. He also delivers the line at the end of the movie that always causes me to shriek and bury my head in a pile of pillows just because IT'S SO GOOD:
Spur: "He's not a lad. He's a man. He's a man!"
Clancy: "THE MAN FROM SNOWY RIVER."
Every character is unique in their own right. There's nothing false about them -- that's another reason I love this movie. It's humble and everybody's completely genuine. Another great character I feel deserves more credit is Harrison's foreman at the ranch. I would love to tell you his name but I can't remember it....(Cain, maybe? Is it Cain?) Whatever his name is, I LOVE this guy. Besides the fact that he has a deep, grovelly voice and wears a drool-worthy black duster coat, he really demonstrates a strength of character even though he's not a prominent part of the story. He's a tough guy who knows his business and does his duty. I'd hire him for my foreman any day.
I'm not sure where this movie would be without the music. Like I said, the story itself is not that deep...I've grown to appreciate it and I'm extremely fond of it, but usually I like a little more grit and action in a western. But the MUSIC (which does have a distinctly 80's sound, but is nevertheless beautiful) heightens everything. Especially in the scenes where Jim & Jessica are riding over the mountains, the music and the scenery put together are completely breathtaking. You feel like you're there, up on that mountain so high you could stroke the sky if you reached for it...I'm getting shivers just thinking about it!
So it's a little melodramatic...sappy, even, yes. (You know it is.) There's not a whole lot of meat. As far as westerns go, it's mild. No gunfights, no saloon brawls. BUT what there is is heart, and lots of it. There are sweet moments and sad moments and the feels are there. The scene where Jim rides his horse down that rocky slope is EVERYTHING they say it is. It's a solid story, good acting, and it's got a cozy feel to it, the kind of movie you'd want to cozy up with on a chill Autumn night with a couple of sisters and a bowl of popcorn. If you like it, you really like it, and you won't tire of watching it over and over again because the fact is, it's just as good every time.