Hostiles Review: What a 19th-century Western Can Teach Trump’s America

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Hostiles Review: What a 19th-century Western Can Teach Trump’s America

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cott Cooper’s exquisite-looking Hostiles starts off with an eerily melancholic and pertinent DH Lawrence quote, “The essential American soul is hard, isolate, stoic, and a killer. It has never yet melted.” The scene that follows this line is a gory, merciless slaughtering of a white settler family in New Mexico – the man is gunned down, hit by an arrow and scalped; his two teen daughters and their infant sibling are shot – by Comanches. The sole survivor of this rampage is the mother, Rosalie Quaid (Rosamund Pike), who manages to run away and hide even as the Comanches set her family’s cabin on fire.

Only moments later, an Apache family is assaulted by American soldiers under the guidance of Captain Joe Blocker (Christian Bale, in one of his finest performances). They are then dumped like cattle at the isolated Fort Berringer populated by Native Americans who are chained and branded prisoners without any trial. Both these scenes are emblematic of the lack of empathy and the overpowering of violence that was the staple in the America of the day.

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