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?The Claim? is set in 1867 in a small town in California?s Sierra Nevadas. The town is called Kingdom Come and is owned and run by Daniel Dillion, a wealthy business man. Dillion (Peter Mullan) has great plans for his town and one day hopes it will turn into a successful city. The folk of Kingdom Come respect the creator of the town. Life there is very peaceful and civilised. If someone steps out of line they are punished by Dillion and quickly forgiven. At the centre of Dillion?s plans for a bustling city is the introduction of a railroad. Realising this would bring better opportunities to his town, Dillion invites the chief surveyor of the Central Pacific Railroad for a visit. Dillion hopes that the surveyor will be impressed with the town, and conduct a survey of the surrounding area. Dalglish (Wes Bentley) the surveyor, arrives in the town and receives a warm welcome from the locals. Lucia (Milla Jovovich), the exotic local brothel owner makes sure that his visit is enjoyable as possible. Not easily swayed by the bribes and smiles, Dalglish sets about his task of assessing the town. Arriving in town in the same convoy as Dalglish is refugee Elena (Nastassja Kinski) and her daughter Hope (Sarah Polley). At first they look like everyday travellers, moving from town to town. As the film progresses we learn more about their characters, and realise that Elena has an ulterior motive for visiting Kingdom Come. Elena is actually very sick and arrives in Kingdom Come with the aim of making up with Hope?s father. When Elena first arrives we are not aware of her past, but it soon becomes evident that Hope doesn?t know who here father is. After about thirty minutes of the movie it become clear that Dillion is actually the father, and in fact he sold his wife and daughter twenty years earlier. He was offered a large amount of gold for his ?loved ones? and the lure of being rich turned out to be too great. Now desperate to make up for his sins, Dillion se
ts about building a relationship with the pair. This is when things start to go wrong for Dillion, and his whole world turns upside down. ?The Claim? is a powerful epic which I quite enjoyed. The strange thing is that not much actually happens during the movie. We see several people arrive and leave the town, but until the last twenty minutes of the film not much actually happens. Before watching the movie I read the back cover. The description talks about how things gradually go wrong when Dillion meets his wife. This is not really true. One of my main complaints about this movie is the fact that things happen in a split second. The film ends too abruptly and certain key scenes arrive without any build up or mention. Enough about the bad points, let me mention some of the positives. The acting overall is very good. There are some strong performances from Wes Bentley (American Beauty) and Peter Mullan. Mullan in particular has a difficult role to play yet looks at home as the troubled owner of Kingdom Come. Someone who does disappoint however is Milla Jovovich. As mentioned above she plays the owner of the local brothel. Her accent is appalling and overall she is not very convincing. The last movie I saw her in was Joan of Arc. Her performance in that movie was diabolical and sadly her role here is not much better. One of the most impressive things about ?The Claim? is the scenery. Kingdom Come is situated between various mountains which are covered in snow. Also during the movie we are treated to various other shots which are beautifully brought to the screen. One thing I realised while watching the lovely scenery was that it is time for a holiday
Never a slave to convention, director Michael Winterbottom works with diverse subject matter here, as he combines Thomas Hardy's Mayor of Casterbridge with tales of the 19th century American goldrush. The film's action takes place in a mountain town named Kingdom Come, owned by the prosperous Daniel Dillon (Peter Mullan) who lays down the law with an iron fist, and chooses who may and may not enter his settlement. However, Mr Dillon's life is unexpectedly turned upside-down when railroad prospector Donald Dalglish (Wes Bentley) comes into town, bringing with him Dillon's dying wife (Natassja Kinski) and daughter (Polley) whom he had sold two decades ago in return for Kingdom Come. Interesting stuff? I don't think so, but as was proved in his previous film, Wonderland, Winterbottom doesn't need captivating plots to create hugely- watchable works of great power and charm. Because the man who astonished us with the hidden beauty of bingo halls and Selhurst Park last year has managed to do likewise for brothels and bonfires in The Claim. Filmed entirely on location in the Canadian Rockies, the visual effects in the film are instantly stunning with the mountain range operating as more than a backdrop, and becoming a major character in its own right. Frequently working in snowstorms and extreme conditions of minus 30 degrees, The Claim has an air of gritty realism to it, as it becomes obvious that the cast are genuinely haggard and depressed as a result of their working environment. Picturesque highlights involve the constant billowing of snow, an incredibly framed firework scene, and a breathtaking train journey through the mountains. For those who like to be kept on the edge of their seats in suspense, this film probably isn't for you, but for those who want to see something, where the artist has painstakingly taken pride in every second of his art, The Claim is one film you need to see.
vOn a short list with the wonderful "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" (see my review under film title) and "Requiem for a Dream," "The Claim" is one of the year's most visually stylistic films. It's shot in color, but a large portion of the film's exterior images are opulent black and white renderings of a sooty, high Sierra Nevada mining town layered against a snow fallen backdrop. The composition is such compelling poetry, it seems all too certain that the story can't measure up; and by the final act, that construct comes to fulfillment. Based on Thomas Hardy's "The Mayor of Casterbridge," the venue for director Michael Winterbottom's cinematic adaptation is a mountain locked western of sorts. It unfolds in a gold rush town named Kingdom Come where life is both anarchic and bureaucratic. The town is overseen and run by Daniel Dillon (Peter Mullan), an Irish immigrant who laid 'claim' to the land some twenty years earlier. He's similar to Gene Hackman's "Unforgiven" sheriff in his strict upholding of rules, namely that guns aren't allowed in his town, though Dillon's not a sadist, just a tortured authoritarian. Things in Kingdom Come, meander along with an orderly complacency. Each day after prospecting, the weathered gold seekers slither into the hotel, run by Milla Jovovich's sexy vaudevillian siren, Lucia, where they find drink and comfort in the arms of the working girls, and thus surrender their hard day's profits. Lucia may parcel out the working girls, but she, herself is marked for Dillon. Then one day a railroad surveillance party, led by Wes Bentley's wide-eyed Donald Dalglish, comes to town to evaluate Kingdom Come as a potential passage way for the coastal connecting rail. The prospect of annexation threatens to upset Dillon's power but that concern is upstaged by the arrival of his long departed daughter, Hope (Sarah Polley) wh
o has returned to the area to bury her dying mother (Nastassja Kinski, in an astonishingly heartfelt performance). The clutch to "The Claim" is that the past and the future will catch up to those who have perpetuated bad karma. It's a noble and classic undertaking, but unfortunately the narrative unleashes the demons of the past too early, so that by the end of the film there is no means to trump its provocative foundation; the conclusion is forgone and anticlimactic. The other issue that plagues the film incessantly is its near shameless resemblance to Robert Altman's fantastic "McCabe & Mrs. Miller" in texture, scope and resolution. The parallels are so strong it feels as if it were an under baked remake. For Winterbottom, the film marks his second cinematic go at Hardy: in 1996 he made "Jude" ("Jude the Obscure") with Kate Winslet. The soft spoken Brit's an ambitious and talented filmmaker -- just look at the quirky "Butterfly Kiss" or the cutting but touching "Welcome to Sarajevo" and you'll know what I mean - it's just too bad his latest effort rests on its veneer without cutting into new frontier
'The Claim' is set in Kingdom Come, a battered town run with impunity by Dillon (Peter Mullan), an Irish gold prospector who made it big. Dillon is like a king in Kingdom Come until the arrival of a survey team from the Central Pacific Railroad, driving the trainline from the Pacific deep into the west, where they will meet the railroad being built from the Atlantic. Dillon wants the railroad to come through his town to cement its future, but other visitors are to determine its fate - a dying woman, Elena (Natassja Kinski) and her daughter Hope (Sarah Polley). As Hope befriends the survey leader (Wes Bentley) and Dillon throws over his mistress the brothel madam (Milla Jovovich) for Elena, the tragic past comes back to haunt the present. The wintry western setting and cast of brothel-keepers and entrepreneurs in a fag end town might remind you of Robert Altman's 'MacCabe and Mrs Miller', but Michael Winterbottom's film is a radically different kind of experience. It is admittedly bleak and dour, with precious little to be happy about. Moreover, the script by Frank Cottrell Bryce is based on Thomas Hardy's 'The Mayor of Casterbridge'. For me, all of the Hardy novels I have read are congealed into one obsessive pessimistic mass, but I know that 'Casterbridge' is a particular downer. The early revelation that Dillon sold Elena and Hope to a prospector in return for the claim on Kingdom Come's land (which is, indeed, rich in gold) casts a bleak shadow over the film. But the central themes of the movie are ones of remorse and forgiveness - optimistic ones in other words. The emphasis on the bitterness and harshness of the environment is evident everywhere, with the jagged, barren mountains and snowstorms bearing down on the people attempting to survive within it, but while the conclusion is undeniably tragic, there are definitely optimistic elements to it. At the start, when Dillon remembers the
trade he made, you hear the prospector say that there is no pleasure in gold, only in human contact, and it is the people able to make this distinction who have the best chance of surviving, even if the vast majority of people are mesmerised by the allure of wealth. The film is not like 'The Treasure of the Sierra Madre', where gold-lust is central, but the theme underlines all of the action, and the final image is all about whether people pursue gold or happiness - the two would seem to be mutually exclusive. Peter Mullan is predictably good as Dillon, a man haunted by his mistakes and misjudgements, desperate to make amends, but frustrated by fate, while Sarah Polley (who I always thought would be a good actress ever since she was the little girl in 'Baron Munchausen') is superb as the troubled heroine. Best of all is Milla Jovovich, who has for me been one of the most relentless irritating actresses of recent years, looking very striking with dark contacts and a kind of dishevelled glamour, giving a sensational performance as Dillon's spurned lover. For all the harsh exteriors, it's a beautifully shot film, with some striking images and glorious photography. I'm never really convinced by Michael Nyman's monotonous film music, but it works quite effectively here. All in all, if you can catch this film at cinemas you probably should; it's a grim but very satisfying drama, feeling very much like a big tragic Russian novel where fate constantly dogs the unwary characters, but it's ultimately a lot more uplifting than it might sound.
This excellent film is set in 1867 at the time of American prospectors hunting for gold in the harsh snowbound Sierra Nevada Mountains of California. The story centres on the town of Kingdom Come which is controlled by the wealthy owner of the gold prospecting rights, Daniel Dillon (Peter Mullan). The shots of the surrounding mountains are so spectacular and the excellent way this film has been made totally engulfs you in realising the hard lives the people of these times led in order to make their money from the gold mining. Some of the panoramic views on this wide screen production just take your breath away and for somebody like me who loves the mountains these shots really made the film. Progress may be on the way for the town of Kingdom Come as the Central Pacific Rail Road is looking for a route through the mountains for its railway track. Dalglish (Wes Bentley), the railroad engineer, has been to sent to the area to determine the best route for the railway and a lot of pressure is put on him by Dillon to try to pursuade him to include Kingdom Come on the route, for he knows this will bring further prosperity to his town. Dillon’s life has just become more complicated by the arrival in the town of Elena (Nastassja Kinski) and her daughter Hope (Sarah Polley), which revives memories of events from twenty years previously. The music score by Michael Nyman adds very dramatically to the whole visual effect of the film and the Nicam Stereo sound surrounds you to give a total involvement in the effects of the film. There is a repeated use of mixed focus, and soft focus effects in the film and after a while this does become a little annoying as it is a little bit over used. There are few special effects in the film, but these are not needed as the whole countryside is the special effect. However, there is one very spectacular effect that gives a whole new meaning to moving house, You will have to watch the film to se
e what I mean. The 15 Certificate is deserved due to some nudity shots and a few lovemaking scenes, but these are not at all out of place. There are also a few brutal killings, but these contrasts are used to emphasis the extremes of weather and conditions that the people of the town were living under. My own teenage children found the plot a little difficult to follow, but even so they still enjoyed the film, but I think they would have preferred a bit more of an action film. The acting in the film is absolutely excellent and the three stars are outstanding. (Peter Mullan, Wes Bentley and Sarah Polley). As there is deep snow around throughout the film I am sure there must have been times that these actors would rather have been on location on a sunny beach, but they appear to give more than 100% effort and made the characters totally believable. I would recommend this film to anyone who has the slightest interest in the gold mining times of America or enjoys truly spectacular photography of the stark beauty of the Sierra Nevada mountains. I am sure you will enjoy it.