- Director Paul Greengrass and actor Tom Hanks collaborate again for News of the World after 2013’s Captain Phillips.
- News of the World is set in North Texas in 1870. This is the same era as The Searchers– just a few years after the Civil War. And like The Searchers, this story involves a young girl who was raised by Native Americans (the Kiowa here).
- Greengrass and director of photography Dariusz Wolski (Dark City, Prometheus) give News of the World a marvelous natural lighting glow from the period particular lanterns. Altman’s McCabe & Mrs. Miller feels like a predecessor.
- The film is essentially a two-hander (or even a road trip movie) between Captain Kidd (Tom Hanks) and Johanna (Helena Zengel). Captain Kidd comes to look after Johanna in the torturous wild west. With the harshness of this world, and the adult/child road trip two-hander- The Road (2009) seems like a fitting comparison in many ways.
- Greengrass shot the film in Santa Fe.
- Greengrass has, sadly, muted his trademark handheld, realism-infused cinéma verité style. Though in one seemingly simple chase through the woods, however he cuts six or seven times and untethers the camera to chase. He does allow the camera to bump along in the back of the wagon a bit (not enough).
- Johanna is an “orphan twice over” and certainly the film is undoing some of the politics of The Searchers. And Hanks is no racist Ethan Edwards—he is much more like Jimmy Stewart (you can say that about many of Hanks’ performances and roles) in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. Captain Kidd is an educated man -he goes from town to town reading the news to locals.
- Speaking of Jimmy Stewart, the set piece on the rocks showdown (above) in News of the World is a highlight in the film—it harkens back to the final set piece sequence in Winchester ’73 (Anthony Mann- 1950).
- At the 83-minute mark Johanna is walking out of her home and is framed by the doorway. There is an arrow on the left sticking out and Hanks embraces her. The turned over wagon is in the frame- a fine cinematic painting.
- The sun pours in on Johanna through the window during the finale- a sublime frame, as Hanks’ Kidd finishes reading.
- Recommend but ultimately not in the top 10 of 2020
The site looks a little different today on my phone. The logo at the top has turned white, and the area that shows recent posts and comments (on the bottom of the page on mobile and on the right on a computer) is no longer a black box. Was this intentional?
@Graham- yes- undergoing some small changes
@Drake- It looks beautiful. Nice job.
@MASH- Oh thank you- appreciate it.
@Malith- thank you, as always, for the help on this page