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Movie Review

Seraphim Falls

MPAA Rating: R for violence and brief language

Reviewed by: Angela Bowman
CONTRIBUTOR

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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Adults
Genre:
Thriller, Western, Action, Adventure, Drama
Length:
1 hr. 55 min.
Year of Release:
2007
USA Release:
January 26, 2007
Copyright, Samuel Goldwyn Films
Copyright, Samuel Goldwyn Films
Copyright, Samuel Goldwyn Films
Copyright, Samuel Goldwyn Films
Copyright, Samuel Goldwyn Films
Copyright, Samuel Goldwyn Films
Copyright, Samuel Goldwyn Films
Copyright, Samuel Goldwyn Films
Copyright, Samuel Goldwyn Films
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Samuel Goldwyn Films

How can I be and feel forgiven? Answer

If God forgives me every time I ask, why do I still feel so guilty? Answer

Forgiveness of sin

Featuring: Liam Neeson, Pierce Brosnan, Anjelica Huston, Jimmi Simpson, Nate Mooney
Director: David von Ancken
“The Shield,” “CSI”
Producer: Stanley J. Wlodkowski, Bruce Davey, David Flynn
Distributor: Samuel Goldwyn Films

“Never turn your back on the past.”

“Seraphim Falls” begins its story in the Ruby Mountains of Nevada in 1868. Gideon (Pierce Brosnan), alone in the snowy mountain wilderness, is shot at by a group of men lead by Carver (Liam Neeson). Gideon, wounded, flees from the men pursuing him and the hunt begins.

The movie starts a little slow, however the beautiful mountain scenery and the curiosity of why Gideon is being pursued was enough to keep me interested as the story slowly unfolds and becomes more interesting. While it was a little difficult for me, wanting to know more about the characters from the beginning, I believe the point of hiding this from the audience is to make us wonder which side is good/right and which is evil/wrong.

We are taken from the beautiful snowy mountains, where water runs in abundance, into the dry desert where water is scarce and the lack of it is life-threatening. While the chase is exciting, once the plot unfolds, the end drags on a bit too long.

Anjelica Houston (“The Royal Tenenbaums,” “Ever After,” “The Addams Family”), although credited, does not appear until the end of the movie, and while I could see some meaning to her character, the film, in my opinion, would have been just as strong without this scene, as well as the one before in which they run into an Indian. Of course, I understand that these characters are supposed to have meaning and do give something for the story, they just didn’t blend into the movie naturally, as the rest of the characters seemed to appear in their right places. It seemed to take away from the reality of the film. Before this I could look at it as if it were actual history, and from this point on it seemed more fictitious.

Without wanting to give it away for those of you who do want to watch this film, in the end, you find that revenge isn’t as fulfilling as it first appeared to be and as one of the Christians tells Gideon “Your sins will find you out.” You can relate to both characters, see their humanity and value. In some cases people kill for revenge, some for money and for others it is kill or be killed and taking a life is difficult and painful.

I have to say that both Liam Neeson and Pierce Brosnan impressed me with their acting capabilities; it seems to be the farthest stretch I’ve seen for both, but especially Pierce Brosnan as I know him only as “Remington Steele” and “James Bond” characters. He really shows a lot of emotion and depth, in addition to the physical persona of a Civil War era tough American man.

I also found it interesting that Carver, who is the one seeking revenge, tells one of his partners when approaching the Christian camp, not to fear the Christians, “Just words, no God out here.” And in contrast, Gideon is heard praying and seems to be convicted of a wrong he committed in the past. Obviously, Carver is wrong when he says that the Bible is “just words.” Hebrews 4:12 tells us that the Word of God is living and active. It also goes on to say that it is sharper than any double-edged sword, penetrating, dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow, it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. The film doesn’t go into detail about Gideon’s religious or Christian beliefs, other than the prayer, but based on that and other indications about his character throughout the movie, one could believe that he is a Christian, and this wrong he has committed has penetrated him, not only troubling his spirit, but troubling his physical life as well.

The most obvious scriptural reference in the movie, as it is mainly a story about revenge, would be that of Romans 12:19, another good scripture concerning revenge is Leviticus 19:18 and both of those tell us what the characters find out in the end, that it is best to leave revenge to God.

I would say that the “R” rating is fair. The violence and gore are not as bad as I was expecting; that being said, it is not for the very squeamish. There are scenes involving shooting and knifing of both people and animals. There is a scene of a man cutting a bullet out of his arm, a man stabbed in the head and his belly cut open so the man who killed him could warm his hands inside the warm body, a horse’s throat slit (shown with blood running out of the horse), and animal organs that have been pulled out of the animal. While this sounds very graphic, I have actually seen worse on television.

There are a couple of scenes in which men are conversing with obvious prostitutes; however, they are fully clothed. There is a scene near the beginning of the film in which one character is apparently going to rape a girl; however, another character steps in before anything happens and nothing is shown.

Language is cleaner than average, but in my opinion more than the brief on the rating implies. Some of the words could slip by you because of the accents of some of the characters, but I have a pretty good ear and like to use the captioning, so I miss very little, including h*ll x2, g*dd*mn or d*mn x9, sh** x2, son of a b**** x2, and f*** I caught 3 times. Once a character said “swear to Christ,” which to me is the same as taking the Lord’s Name in vain.

I felt that the acting was great, the cinematography was beautiful, and while I would have enjoyed it more if it were made clear that Carver saw the reality of God in the end, I would like to believe that he did, since his regard for life was less throughout the movie than it was at the very end.

The film is clear about the negativity of revenge and consequences of seeking revenge. After going through all that he did, Carver really accomplished nothing and lost even more. On the flip side, we can also see how Gideon suffers the consequences of his actions and his attempts to escape them. It reminds me of how we all make mistakes and suffer the consequences, how sometimes we might want to seek revenge, and we might try harder to see the point of view of the person on the other side. It shows human life as valuable and how deeply sad it is when we don’t appreciate that, and when people kill each other. I appreciated seeing both the good and bad sides of each character and why they have made the choices they’ve made.

The violence did not bother me; I viewed it as realistic for the time period. I consider the language to be the main negative issue for this film. If I had not been purposely keeping notes, these redemptive qualities would possibly have made me forget much of the language.

Violence: Heavy / Profanity: Moderate / Sex/Nudity: None


Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Negative—…As a fan of the Western genre I looked forward to this. Hope, however, led to complete disappointment. A promising premise—a chase movie with ruthless posse and cunning prey—is completely mugged by over-indulgent director and dreadful script. The ending is positively outlandish given what has gone before. Pierce Brosnan mainly grunts and Liam Neeson is sadly under-used, as was the film editor. There is also quite a bit of needless gore, including a horse being disembowelled. Stunningly photography is completely wasted on this tripe. Avoid!

Interestingly I just got re-aquainted with Howard Hawks' magnificent '40s Western, “Red River,” via DVD. Modern directors could do worse than watch his films. They might just learn something—like how to direct!
My Ratings: Offensive / 2
—Ken Edwards, age 59
Negative—My husband and I are very much into the Western genre and we watched this aware that there would be violence and “brief profanity” in “Seraphim Falls.” The profanity was indeed NOT brief but was constant and throughout the movie which was unnecessary, distracting, and offensive. I agree with the first viewer’s comment. Despite the excellent filming and perhaps a little something redeeming with the lesson on revenge, we were disappointed in the movie and in ourselves for not turning it off in the beginning. I do not recommend it to anyone who wants have a pure heart and clean conscience.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Susan, age 38 (USA)