A couple of weeks back, Joycelyn (better known as "J"), a friend and longtime critique partner, suggested we go see THE LONE RANGER. Spurred by the fact that another friend, Don DeNoon, had worked a couple of days as an extra on the set, I disregarded the negative press on the movie and agreed to go.
There are things to dislike about the film if you expect cultural accuracies or a respectful treatment of the Lone Ranger saga. This is not your father’s “Hi-ho-Silver, Away” masked hero. To say the script turns the legend on its head is to give the cliché short-shrift.
One of my objections to the film from trailers and advertising was the ridiculous bird Tonto wears atop his head. It is clearly a ceremonial headgear, not something for daily wear. Yet, I soon forgot such a petty peeve when the dead crow turned into a clever and hilarious foil for Tonto…excuse me, Johnny Depp. And that’s a significant lapse. Because during the movie, Depp disappears into Tonto. After the movie, things revert to normal, and we talk about the actor, not the role.
If you go, and I recommend that you do, don’t expect anything except to be entertained, and you’ll get your money’s worth. The movie is funny, exciting, fast-paced, and terribly ridiculous…but by the end you don’t care about that last little detail. It has two outstanding stars: Johnny Depp and beautiful New Mexico…well, and Monument Valley in another unnamed state.
Depp is hilarious, ridiculous, and thought-provoking…sometimes all at the same time. He is a gifted actor, and that fact becomes apparent in this film. He, alone, is worth the price of admission.
But New Mexico! Well, it deserves an Oscar just for being there.
The crew built the town of Colby and laid five miles of functional railroad tracks on the Rio Puerco west of Albuquerque near historic Route 66. A lot of the action scenes take place there.
The rugged terrain of the privately owned Saddleback and San Cristobal Ranches near Lamy is showcased. Lamy (named for an early bishop of the See of Santa Fe) is a small town established in 1869 to serve as a railroad stop for the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe (now the Burlington line).
The steep canyons and the magnificent Palisades along Highway 64 between Cimarron and Eagle Nest in the northeastern part of the state see action in the film, and represent us well.
Some of the red-rock country of the Jemez Mountains along the center of the state lend color. We get glimpses of the Gilman Tunnels (two holes cut through living rock) five miles west of Jemez Pueblo. My favorite place on earth, Valles Calderas (See blog of Nov 29, 2011), appears in the movie, as does the 1,500-foot monolith, Shiprock Monument (Blog of Apr 11, 2013). We get a glimpse of the beautiful mountain vistas of Pajarito Ski Area near Los Alamos and the Angel Fire country.
I’m sure I missed some other notable places, but I hope this is enough to encourage you to go drink in the beauty of our great state…and at the same time be entertained by Disney’s and Johnny Depp’s head trip of the Lone Ranger.
By the way, Don’s significant contribution to the movie ended up on the cutting room floor.
Next week: We’re still working our way toward Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness.
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