On 3.20.15 I posted a piece about what a rich and legendary year 1971 was. 28 first-rate films and 23 that were at least fairly good — a significant tally. But I forgot to mention Peter Fonda‘s The Hired Hand, which was widely admired from the get-go. But I’ve never seen it so I bypassed it. That situation will soon be corrected with Arrow’s release of a Hired Hand Bluray on 11.21.
I don’t like the trailer [after the jump] but I trust the reviews by N.Y. Times critic Roger Greenspun and The New Yorker‘s Penelope Gilliatt:
Greenspun: “I don’t know just what I expected of [this] Peter Fonda western, but certainly not a film so sensitively appreciative of what might be possible in a western. A certain amount of what might not be possible also gets in, for The Hired Hand is a rather ambitious simple movie, with a fairly elaborate technique and levels of meaning rising to the mystical, which seems so much a part of the very contemporary old west.
“But the technique, the lyrical lap dissolves and super-impositions, the straining to preserve images, the attempt to transform light into substance and symbol — all belong to a mysticism that is not so much other-worldly as this-worldly, and which works to ameliorate the excesses and to forgive the pretensions of this lovely but by no means perfect movie.
“For The Hired Hand deals with spiritual imminence, and I think that its greatest ambition is to understand and, to a degree, to figure daily life in a state or grace.
“The Hired Hand knows that its paradise is both tenable and actual, but it also knows that nobody can stay there for very long, and that is why it accords so well with the gentle fatalism of the western. [Perhaps] its greatest glory is in the passing of the natural day, the coming of the evening light — in all those commonplace gifts of awareness that could be merely decorative effect but that here seem visionary insight.”