Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Deadwood The Complete Seasons 1-3|
Actors: Timothy Olyphant, Ian McShane, Molly Parker, Jim Beaver, Brad Dourif
Directors: Adam Davidson, Alan Taylor, Daniel Attias, Daniel Minahan, Davis Guggenheim
Genres: Action & Adventure, Westerns, Drama, Television, Mystery & Suspense
Studio: Hbo Home Video Release Date: 06/12/2007 Run time: 720 minutes
A profound innovation in the American western
John A. Aragon | Santa Fe NM USA | 06/19/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"First, "Deadwood" has the most constantly profane and racist language, and graphic sex and violence I have ever seen on mainstream film. So, those who are offended by material of this nature should not watch. But if you can get past that, "Deadwood" is brilliant.
Let me begin by giving an example of the writing. In the following scene, Al Swearengen, Deadwood's ruthless leader, deplores the fact that the self righteous Sheriff, Bullock, is too involved in his adulterous affair with Alma (who controls a rich gold mine) to focus on the political struggles the community is facing in its attempt to be annexed into the United States. Swearengen watches Bullock leave the hotel after being with Alma. One of Swearengen's men remarks that Bullock means no disrespect. Swearengen replies:
"Horror is, you are f**kin' right. He don't know if he's breathin' or takin' it through f**kin' gills. He is that f**king c**t-struck. They're afloat. In some fairy f**kin' bubble, lighter than air, him, her snatch, and his stupid f**kin' badge...Self-deceiving c**k-sucker I am, I thought, when America took us in, Bullock would prove a f**kin' resource. Look at him, stridin' out like some randy, maniac Bishop."
"Deadwood" is a true western because it is the story of the creation of a community on the frontier. The town of Deadwood was born when gold was discovered in the Black Hills, lands ceded to the Sioux by treaty. All kinds of non-Native Americans, Europeans, and Chinese invaded the area. This action was illegal under the laws of the United States and, of course, considered grounds for war by the Sioux. So, the people who founded Deadwood, of every class, were all true outlaws. And Deadwood had no law but custom and the knife and gun. In three seasons, "Deadwood" tells the story of how the town was founded and ultimately annexed to Dakota Territory.
Many of the characters portrayed are based on historical personages. Formost among them is Al Swearengen the "Bloody King of Deadwood," who operated the town's first saloon and bordello. Swearengen is played by Ian McShane. It is the role of McShane's career and he is astounding. As the episodes progress, Swearengen's charachter evolves to amazing complexity, far beyond the simple villain he at first appears. We come to root with guilty pleasure for Swearengen, the murderer and whoremonger, and to admire his cunning as he allies with Bullock and others who attempt to hold their own against even worse and more powerful and morally corrupt forces; Cy Tolliver, the despicable overlord of a competing gambling house, Wolcott, mining engineer, serial killer of prostitutes and agent of the ruthless, implacable mining magnate, George Hearst, and against corrupt and idiotic politicians from Yankton who would deprive Deadwood's founders of political rights of self determination.
The thing I enjoyed most about "Deadwood" is the fact that it is brilliantly and blatantly Shakespearian. Scenes of high drama are artfully alternated with comic vignettes. A number of characters actually engage in soliloquies with strange yet understandable sentence structure. It is surprising and pleasing to see how well such scenes work in a western. For example, Swearengen keeps the head of a dead Indian in a box. When he is beset by fools, his lackeys, Swearengen, like Hamlet to Yoric, confides his feelings, questions and stratagems to "The Chief." In one such scene, Swearengen complains to The Chief about one of his men. Swearengen says:
"Dead, and without a body, you still outstrip him for intelligence."
There are a few pure and good souls represented in this savage work. Calamity Jane, played by Robin Weigert is a true Shakespearian "wise fool." In one of my favorite scenes (it made me laugh and cry) Calamity visits the grave of the murdered Wild Bill Hickock, who she adored. It is her custom each night to tell Wild Bill the news of Deadwood. On this night, she is joined by Charlie Udder, Wild Bill's other closest friend. She allows Charlie to tell Wild Bill the news. But he breaks down. He asks Calamity:
"Can I...can I tell `im some more tomorra?"
Calamity replies with kindness:
"Sure. What the f**k you askin' me for? I don't make the rules."
The scene is at once melancholy, hilarious, and profound. And there are many such scenes in this brilliant masterpiece.
"Deadwood" is an innovation, in the American western, so profound that it will be studied by many over time. Whether it will ever be matched is an open question.
Shakespeare meets Melville amidst "the Mud and the Blood and
Gregory M. Wasson | Pinole, CA USA | 03/15/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Whether you buy it here, or rent it somewhere else (it IS pricey to purchase), elbow out some room at the top of your "must see" list for all three seasons of "Deadwood." It is ambitious in scope, with dialogue that could have come from Hamlet, had every line in Hamlet been peppered with one or more variations on the coarsest of obscenities.
Producer David Milch has accomplished something extraordinary for any mediium. "Deadwood" is populated with outrageous, over-the-top characters who are nevertheless believable and who continue to evolve throughout the narrative. The storyline builds with the power of Epic drama, a Medieval morality tale played out by pimps, prostitutes, Comstock Tycoons, saloon keepers, and hardware merchants.
Milch also has a wonderful instinct for revealing the complexity of his players. Sometimes a cocked eye, a single word, or fleeting physical gesture can hint at previously unsuspected dimensions in a character, whether central or peripheral to the story.
With a Wild West setting in the Dakota Badlands of the 1870s, every step taken by the characters in this series holds the possibility that they will sink into mud up to their ankles, as they try to pick their way through the maze of hastily cobbled together buildings, relationships, and moral dilemmas that make up "Deadwood.""