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ReFocus: The Films of Kelly Reichardt$
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E. Dawn Hall

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781474411127

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2018

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474411127.001.0001

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Expectations: Meek’s Cutoff

Expectations: Meek’s Cutoff

Chapter:
(p.86) Chapter 7 Expectations: Meek’s Cutoff
Source:
ReFocus: The Films of Kelly Reichardt
Author(s):

E. Dawn Hall

Publisher:
Edinburgh University Press
DOI:10.3366/edinburgh/9781474411127.003.0007

This chapter focuses on Reichardt’s genre mixing, slow cinematic techniques, minimalism, neorealism and her use of the “female gaze” as well as “the open image” or “crystal image” as defined by Shohini Chaudhuri and Howard Finn. Reichardt subtly shifts the environmental and political issues highlighted in her prior films back to the nineteenth century debate of Manifest Destiny and its effects on the landscape and native peoples. Based on historical events during the 1845 “terrible trail” tragedy, Meek’s Cutoff explores contemporary political issues of leadership and community by loosely linking Meek’s violence with George W. Bush era torture tactics and foreign policy. In her feminist Western, Reichardt used an aspect ratio of 1:37:1 creating a claustrophobic framing aesthetic and while this echoes the pioneer women’s vision during their long march in the dessert, it also created distribution concerns.

Keywords:   Slow cinema, Neorealism, Female gaze, Meek’s Cutoff, Feminist Western, Aspect ratio, Manifest destiny, The Open Image, Aesthetic, Native American

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