Far and Away (1992)

 

 

 

 

Director:     Ron Howard.

Starring:     Tom Cruise (Joseph Donnelly),  Nicole Kidman (Shannon Christie),  Thomas Gibson (Stephen Chase),  Robert Prosky (Daniel Christie),  Barbara Babcock (Nora Christie),  Cyril Cusack (Danty Duff),  Eileen Pollock (Molly Kay),  Colm Meaney (Kelly),  Douglas Gillison (Dermody),  Michelle Johnson (Grace),  Wayne Grace (Bourke),  Niall Toibin (Joe).  Barry McGovern (McGuire),  Gary Lee Davis (Gordon),  Jared Harris (Paddy).

anti-landlord uprising in Ireland sends a young man and woman to the USA and eventually to the Oklahoma Land Rush of 1889

 

 

Spoiler Warning:  below is a summary of the entire film. 

Western Ireland, 1892.  The tenant farmers, after generations of oppression and poverty, have begun to rebel against the unfair rents and cruel evictions imposed upon them by their wealthy landlords. 

The landlord Buntin is being driven through a small village in a carriage.   This upsets the locals and everyone comes into the main street to give the landlord a nasty reception.  The carriage is stopped and surrounded by the locals shouting insults at Buntin.  The man starts to panic and shoots his pistol into the air.  This startles the already upset horses and they bolt away.  Part of the carriage knocks into a building support and down comes part of the building.  Unfortunately, the building falls on Joe Donnelly.  He is badly hurt and he asks his friend Danty to take him home to his three sons. 

The youngest of the three sons, Joseph Donnelly, is busy working on the farm with the help of his white donkey.  The older sons, Colm and Paddy, are obviously used to picking on Joseph and today is no different.  They tease him for breaking his back working on land that doesn't belong to the family, but to the landlord Christie.  They say they want to make his nose bleed.  Joseph knows what's coming, so he socks the bigger brother Colm in the face and knocks him down.  He then knocks the other brother down.  But fighting two brothers at the same time is no easy task and Joseph gets tossed down the hill towards the cliff overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.  That makes him really mad and he charges up the hill after the brothers.  He is stopped when the younger brother throws his feet into Joseph's mid-section, knocking him down. 

Colm kicks Joseph when he's down and the younger brother knocks him down again while Joseph is trying to get up.  The fight is stopped, however, when Danty comes rolling up with a cart with the boys' father laying in it.  Joseph runs to the cart to check on dad.  They take dad into their house.  Danty starts telling a whopper of a lie saying that their father fought off fifty of the enemy armed with hideous guns.  This irritates Joseph and he tells Danty Duff for once in his life just be quiet. 

Dad tells Joseph that he's dying.  Dad goes unconscious and the boys think he's dead.  Joseph starts to grieve and dad scares everyone when he comes back to life.  He says he died, but came back to tell Joseph that the boy is an odd boy.  Joseph tells him that one day he will be working his own land.  Dad says on that day he will be looking down on Joseph from heaven above with a smile on his face.  And now dad dies for real. 

It's the day of the funeral and on this day the landlord Daniel Christie's land agent and the law come riding up to the funeral procession.  The agent demands to know whose body is in the coffin.  No one give him an answer.   So the agent says he will carry out his duties today.  The rent on the Donnelly house and the land has not been paid.  This is the third notice he is delivering to the Donnellys.  He and the men ride over to the Donnelly house and set it on fire.  Joseph asks Danty where can he find this landlord for he wants justice done on him. 

After the funeral Danty shows a hidden away rifle.  It has been hidden away for so long that the rifle has deteriorated terribly.  Danty laughs and says:  "There's nothing, nothing I like better than the glow of murder in a young fella's eyes."  He hands the weapon over to Joseph and tells him:  "Here now, give him a proper taste of death."  He says two words in rebel code to him:  "Captain Midnight."  Of course, Joseph doesn't know what the words mean, but he acts like he does. 

As Joseph sets off for Daniel Christie's place, the villagers give him a terrible teasing, saying things like:  "Captain Moonlight, Joseph!";  "Off to kill your landlord, eh?"; and "Don't be afraid to kill him!"  The whole village is laughing at him.  Joseph expresses his feeling of betrayal to Danty, but Danty just says:  "Ah, Joseph, it was too good to be kept a secret, son."

Joseph rides his donkey through the Irish countryside and he sees some beautiful sights.  He stops at a tavern for a drink and the men inside keep guessing where he came from.  Joseph replies:  "I prefer to keep my business to myself, if you please."  One of the men says:  "Oh, very wise, very wise, very wise."  A fancily dressed older man, but a very down to earth kind of guy, comes into the tavern saying hello to everyone.  And he shouts:  "Whiskey for everyone!"   The customers like that!  They ask him how's he getting along and the man says he's oppressed by a wife that won't let him drink. 

Joseph seems to like the man until someone offers a toast to Mr. Christie.  Joseph gets so queer of an expression on his face that Christie says to him:  "Liven up, lad.  You're too young to be brooding in your ale."  Christie goes over to talk to the lad and seems to like him. 

Christie starts his return journey at twilight and Joseph with his donkey follows him.  He gets in a good position to kill Christie but the donkey bolts away from him, spoiling his shot.  He follows Christie back to his mansion. 

The next morning in the stables, a sleeping Joseph is awaken by the sounds of a returning horse.  There is a young lady, named Shannon, riding the horse.  From a window her mother criticizes her for the undignified way in which she rides.  Shannon says nobody saw her out riding.  The young woman is feed up with her mother always criticizing her.  She brings her horse into the stables complaining to the horse that mother never leaves them alone.  She puts the horse in the stall, takes off her riding jacket and sits down.  While sitting there she hears something and senses that somebody is there.  She throws a horseshoe up into the rafters and it comes down leaning on Joseph's boot.  He stays in the stable bay until a pitchfork comes crashing through the stall wall almost hitting Joseph.  Now he comes out but has to face Shannon with the pitchfork in her hands.  She shouts that he stay still or she will stab him.  When she starts yelling for father, Joseph tries to run around her, but she stabs him in the right thigh with the pitchfork.  That stops Joseph in his tracks.  He is hurt and stunned.

Now Shannon runs out screaming like bloody hell:  "Help!  I've been all but raped and slaughtered!"  Dad and mother come outside to see what's wrong.  Shannon says it's the devil himself.  Joseph comes out with a limp and his rifle.  He accuses Mr. Christie of pushing his family off their land,  Christie has no idea what the young fellow is talking about, but Joseph points the rifle at Christie and fires.  The gun explodes apart leaving Joseph on the ground with gunpowder residue all over his face. 

Joseph is taken into the house and put in bed.  He is undressed and cleaned up.  Mother is disturbed by father dropping a liquor bottle and goes to investigate.  She puts a bowl over Joseph's over private parts so Shannon won't see them and heads downstairs to see to her husband.  Shannon is curious and lifts up the side of the bowl to see what's there.  The second time she takes a look Joseph awakens and grabs her saying in a loud whisper:  "I want my land!"  He then goes unconscious again. 

The neighboring ladies come over to the mansion and are shocked at the tale of the terrible insurgent.  Shannon's mother tells them:  "He's as ugly as sin and the most vicious creature I've ever set eyes upon."  The women are sure glad to see the land agent Stephen Chase.  He says he has come for the prisoner.  He teases the women a bit and he then goes over to see Shannon. 

Joseph awakens and manages to get his pants on.  Downstairs mother asks Shannon to play the piano.  A first she says no, and mom and the ladies are shocked.   Stephen asks her to play something for them.  She starts out alright, but then switches over to a "modern" American band song hat sounds a bit like a jazzed up Stephen Foster song.  And now Joseph comes down struggling with the steps.  Shannon sees him and suddenly stops playing.  Then the women gasp.  Joseph falls down the stairs to the ground floor.  Stephen goes over to him and Joseph says he's the bastard that burned down their house. Stephen retorts:  "I burnt many a house in the line of duty.  Am I meant to remember yours?"   Joseph gets angry and pulls the rug from under Stephen's feet causing him to fall on the floor.  Joseph gets up and puts his foot on Stephen's throat saying maybe the man will remember this.  Joseph spits in the man's face.  One of the men with Stephen takes a whack at the wounded thigh with the butt of his rifle.   Joseph does down in terrible pain.  Stephen gets up and challenges Joseph to a duel with pistols early tomorrow morning. 

At night a security man guards the door to Joseph's room.  Joseph is trying to walk with the help of a chair.   He sees a ladder being placed against a window and then he sees Shannon climbing up to the window.  She opens it and tells him that she is running away.  Shannon says she's modern and she's going to a modern place.  She takes out of hiding a locked, small box.  Amidst the paper therein, she pulls out a notice saying:  "LAND!"   She shows it to Joseph, but soon realizes he can't read.  She tells him that out in Oklahoma in America they are offering 160 acres of free land.  Joseph doesn't believe that anybody is offering free land to people no matter what country.  She calls him pathetic and "boy".   He starts denouncing her for living off the toil of others.  She says she didn't take his land, so if he really wants land, he will come with her. 

She says great ships sail out of Dublin and Liverpool, but a woman cannot travel alone.  She saw how he is capable to shooting people and stepping on their necks and she sees him as a boy who could really help her.  She says he can be her serving boy.  He gets mad at her for even suggesting this and despite her offer to pay him a daily wage, he sends her back down the ladder.  He says he is of Ireland and is not leaving it for some distant, far away place.  And he's going to keep his duel appointment tomorrow.  She says Stephen will shoot him down.  He closes the window in her face. 

It's a very foggy morning.  When the men walk away from each other for fifteen paces and turn around, Joseph reports that he can't see his opponent.  Stephen says he can see Joseph.  Just then Shannon rides up in a wagon and shouts for Joseph to get on the wagon with her.  Stephen yells for Shannon to get out of the way.  Joseph tells her to get away from him, so she starts leaving.  He still can't see Stephen, but he hears Stephen cock his pistol.  He suddenly has a change of mind and runs after Shannon and jumps on the wagon.  As Shannon pulls away from her family they yell for her to come back.  Shannon yells at Joseph:  "I saved your neck!  You remember that!"

On board ship Joseph hates acting as the servant boy for Shannon.  A passenger comes over to Shannon and says his name is McGuire and he is from Boston, Massachusetts.  He asks her to take a promenade with him on the ship's deck.  She goes with him while Joseph has to follow her holding her umbrella over her head.  Shannon wants to talk to the American to get some knowledge of the place.   Joseph butts in and asks about the free land supposedly available in the United States.  McGuire says it' all true.  The West is opening up and there is beautiful, free land available in Oklahoma Territory.  But Oklahoma is a thousand miles or so from Boston.  And when she gets to Oklahoma she will have to run for the land in a race.  Shannon is taken aback and explains that she did not know getting free land was going to be so complicated.  Now she tells Joseph that she wants to speak to the gentleman alone.   Joseph doesn't like it, but he leaves.

Alone, Shannon tells McGuire that she has fancy, ancient spoons made of silver.  She took them from her mother and plans to sell them in Boston upon her arrival.  He tells her he can recommend some trustworthy places in Boston where she will be able to sell her silver spoons. She thanks him and they part company.

When Shannon returns to her table, she see the boy eating her chocolate cake.  She is not pleased with him. 

Boston Harbor, August 1892.  The docks are packed with people.   Shannon is in a celebratory mood because she has made it to America.  Joseph mentions to her that she lost Mr. McGuire.  Just then Shannon sees the man and shouts out to him.  The guy acts like he doesn't know Shannon, but she keeps blurting out with his name so that he finally decides to come over to her.  As McGuire makes his way over to Shannon a young Irish lad asks Joseph if he needs work or lodging and mentions:  "People hate ya if you're Irish!"  He also says that an Irishman can't get anything without knowing the ward boss, the biggest in Boston.  McGuire arrives, calls the young boy a shyster and pushes him away.  He tells Shannon he will take her to a nice hotel.   He gets her a cab and tells the driver to take the woman to a decent hotel. 

Shannon parts from Joseph, but soon afterwards two men come up to McGuire, ask him if he is McGuire, get a yes and now they shoot him in the chest.  As McGuire goes down all of Shannon's silver spoons start slipping out of McGuire's luggage.  And as they fall, the hordes of people start snapping them up.  She yells for Joseph to save her spoons.  He comes running.  He chases after one fellow and tackles him.  The police start arriving, blowing their whistles.  Joseph brings the one bag back to Shannon and now they take off running.  Shannon is crying all the way saying she has no money now and God is punishing her for her stealing the spoons from her mother. 

Joseph sees the ward boy and grabs him.  He wants the boy to take them to the ward boss.  He does so.  The ward boss, Mike Kelly, is busy boxing a man.  Joseph tells Shannon to stand back, but she defiantly pushes forward, and gets blood splashed onto her face.  She screams, Kelly gets distracted by her and gets punched in the face and down he goes.  When he gets up he starts accusing Shannon of distracting him.   Joseph comes to her defense saying to Kelly:  "You weren't concentrating."  Kelly asks him who is this woman?  Hesitating, Joseph finally says she's his sister.  Shannon speaks low saying to Joseph that they are in no way related to each other. 

Joseph has to straighten her out fast.   He says these people are his kind of people, and definitely not her kind of people.  He adds:  "And my kind doesn't like your kind.  In fact, they hate everything about you."  He says he could keep lying on her behalf or they could tell them that she is a very rich Protestant.  Now she straightens up and will cooperate with her "brother". 

Joseph goes over to the table where Kelly takes bets.  He is going to get a job and lodging for Joseph and register him as a citizen and a voter.  And then, of course, Joseph will vote for Kelly's men in all the elections.  Joseph is interrupted by Shannon loudly protesting against the boxer who won lifting up her skirt with a wooden cane to see what's beneath there.  Joseph goes to her side and pulls the cane away from the boxer.  This starts a fight which Joseph wins convincingly. 

The ward boss is pleased by Kelly's success.  He knows he can make money off this scrapper.  He tells the Irish boy, Dermody, to come with him and the newcomers and they will get them nice and settled down at Molly Kaye's. 

In the rain they go to Molly Kaye's brothel.  There is a room here where the newcomers can stay.  The room's a bit of a dump.  And Shannon says they need two rooms because they are not sleeping in the same room together.  Molly tells Shannon that she doesn't have another available room, but Shannon says that's not good enough.  Joseph has to intervene and says they will take the one room gratefully.  Shannon goes inside the room.  Molly tells Joseph that his sister is a bit spoiled.

Shannon is angry and lays in bed pouting.  Joseph tells her that he thinks he likes it here in America.  Look how fast they got them set up herr with a job and lodging. And if you want some free land, just get a horse and help yourself.  He lays down on a blanket on the floor and tells Shannon of the dreams he's been having about owning his own land.  She gets mad at him feeling so good, while she feels terrible, that she hits him with her pillow, shouting that if it weren't for her none of his dreams would ever come true.  And now she wants her pillow back.  Joseph says, not in a hundred years. 

Back in Ireland.   Nora Christie tells her husband that she is astounded that Shannon has not sent them any word of where she is or how she is. Dad feels bad about her being so upset, so he pulls out the letters that Shannon has been writing him.  He tells his wife that Shannon asked him not to tell her mother of the letters.  As Nora starts reading a letter, a rock comes busting through a window.  The Land War is still on and the Irish are set on burning Mr. Christie out of house and home.  One of the rioters shouts out:  "Captain Moonlight!"  Fire torches are tossed through the broken windows.

Daniel tells Nora to get out of the house.  Stephen comes riding up on his horse, firing his pistol into the air.  He rescues the older couple and then takes Shannon's photo off the piano. 

In the morning Daniel asks Stephen if they are ruined now.  Stephen says he still has the land that he can always sell.  Mrs. Christie tells her husband:  "Our daughter's fallen into perilous ruin.  We must go to her now."    Stephen says yes, they need to go to her.

Boston, Massachusetts.  Shannon and Joseph are working in a chicken plucking factory.  She takes a break in place while she slowly wipes her brow with her sleeve and the foreman gets mad at her and tells her to get back to work.  She calls him some juicy words and he docks her for the day's pay.  She calls him another name and he docks her for tomorrow's pay.  He now asks her if she wants to be docked for the day after tomorrow.  She is tempted but doesn't say anything right away.  Joseph motions to her not to say anything more.  Everybody is expecting her to say something soon and they were right, because Shannon goes back to work while she tells the foreman to go ahead and dock her for Friday too. 

Shannon washes clothes like a rich woman.  Joseph has to show her how to wash her clothes so it doesn't take all day.  "You plunge and scrub.  You plunge and scrub."

The two are getting ready to go to bed.  Shannon changes behind a cloth screen with plenty of holes in it.  Joseph strips his clothes off near the fire place.  They spy to get a look at each other when the other is not looking. 

Joseph lays on the floor but finds it hard to sleep because he is so frustrated sexually speaking.  He suddenly jumps up, gets dressed and goes down to Kelly's place.  A new boxing match is about to start and Joseph rushes in and knocks down the waiting fighter.  The boxing match begins according to the rules.  Joseph wins easily because he bobs and weaves and hits hard.  This really impresses Mike Kelly and the influential Mr. D'arcy Bourke, member of the City Council.  Another man wants to fight and Joseph is ready, willing and able. 

Chorus girl Grace brings Joseph back to the bordello and drops him off in the care of Shannon.  Outside in the hall Grace asks Shannon lots of questions about her "brother".  Grace just irritates Shannon who wants to get rid of her as quickly as she can.  She is a bid rude to the chorus girl, but does get rid of her.  Shannon goes back inside and learns that Joseph earned four dollars fighting.  She says:  "That's more than plucking chickens in a month." 

So Joseph fights more and more and keeps on winning.  Grace makes money off betting on Joseph to win.

Joseph has bought himself a new hat and is acting like the cock of the walk.  He asks Shannon if she like his hat and she says:  "No, not at all."  He's not happy that Shannon won't say she likes his hat.  He runs into Kelly and Bourke and goes over to talk with them about fighting.  Bourke sees Shannon and is impressed saying:  "That's a long-legged piece of strawberry tart."  Joseph doesn't like that remark and says Bourke should watch his mouth.  Kelly jumps in to say that Joseph can't talk like that to Mr. Bourke.  Bourke tells Kelly to let it go, because Joseph is their work horse.  Bourke tells Joseph that he wants him to fight an Italian and he wants to see the man bleed.  Joseph says he will fight and he will win, but Bourke and his boys don't own him.  He is fighting for himself, alone.  This makes both Bourke and Kelly angry. 

Joseph walks away from the men, but Kelly goes and catches up to Joseph.  Kelly tells him very frankly:  "Cross me and you're nothin', nothin' but an ignorant mick!  You do what you're told or I'll throw you out on the street . . . "  Does Joseph understand that?  He says yeah. 

Joseph comes back to the bordello and a drunken Shannon plays the piano for the women.  He is disappointed in her and goes upstairs.  She comes after him to tell him he has changed and not in a good way.  He's spending all his Oklahoma money on fancy hats and clothes.  In fact, he has become a regular snob.  Grace calls up to Joseph and they talk of seeing each other in church.  Shannon tells Joseph that Grace is just a tramp.  She then tells him that the ward boss and his friends are just making a fool out of him.  And they do not respect Joseph.  He's just a source of money to them and that's all.  He has had enough of that kind of talk and takes her to the bathroom and throws her into the tub filled with water.  Joseph wants to know why can't she once in a while say she likes his hat or his suit or acknowledge that he's done well for himself.  And now they really start yelling at each other.  Shannon gets outs of the tub and slams the bedroom door in Joseph's face. 

The prostitutes see all this and Molly Kaye asks Joseph why doesn't he just shag her and get it over with?  Joseph protests that's his sister.  She replies:  "And I'm your mother."  All the women have a good laugh at this. 

Joseph comes down at night asking Molly where did Shannon go?  Dermody rushes in to say that everyone is waiting for him so the fight can begin with the Italian.  Joseph is only interested in Shannon's where-abouts.   Dermody tells him that Shannon is already at the Social Club.  So Joseph goes with Dermody to the fight.  He passes by all the fight fans to tell Shannon to get off the stage and stop being a chorus girl.  Shannon tells him to mind his own business. 

Bourke comes over to says he has a $100 dollar bet on Joseph and he has to fight.  Joseph says he's not going to fight.  So Bourke says he will pay Joseph $200 dollars if he fights and wins.  Now Shannon tells Joseph to take the money.   She wants him to fight.  This will get them out of here and to Oklahoma.  The Italian is a good boxer and hits Joseph hard with a blow to the head.  Joseph gets some good hits in, but the fellow is much bigger than Joseph and his blows really have a negative effect on him.  Joseph starts winning but the opponent grabs his two fists and head butts Joseph.  Joseph gets up and makes a come back and knocks the Italian down. 

But now Bourke is about to spoil everything.  He tells Kelly he wants that strawberry tart.  Kelly brings her over and sets her on his lap.  Joseph sees this and gets terribly unfocused on the fight.  He knocks the Italian down and goes after Bourke telling him to get his hands off her.  Bourke falls backward in his chair and Kelly throws Joseph back into the audience.  The customers hand him hand over hand until he reaches the center of the circle.  He's still focused on Shannon.  The Italian hits Joseph hard in the kidneys and then just finishes up with him.  Joseph gets the worst beating of his boxing "career".  Joseph is declared knocked out.  The Italians are extremely happy and Kelly wants vengeance on Joseph. 

Joseph wakes up and finds himself laying in the middle of an empty outdoors market place.  He starts walking home and sees and hears Stephen Chase asking people to help him find Shannon.  If anyone has seen the girl, they are to report it to number 6 Jefferson Court.  The family is here in Boston and are offering a reward for her.  Joseph runs back home.  When he gets there, Kelly and his boys are waiting for him.  Kelly takes all their money back and then they gives Joseph another beating.  And now Joseph and Shannon are banished and ostracized from the community.  They are now on the streets of Boston in the winter.

For three days they walk around.  No one will help them.  Joseph tries to do some work for a man but the fellows says he doesn't hire Irish.  Shannon is feeling weak, cold and hungry, so Joseph breaks into a fancy house he thinks is vacant.  In the house they get some food and pretend that they are in love with each other.  They kiss each other several times, but now the owners have come back to the house.  Shannon runs out the door first followed by Joseph.  The house owners fires his rifle and hits Shannon in the shoulder.  She goes down.  Joseph swoops her up and goes around asking for help.  He doesn't get any.  So he now decides to take her to number 6 Jefferson Court.  Stephen Chase is there to let Joseph and Shannon into the home.  He starts working on her wound, all the while criticizing Joseph for not taking care of and protecting Shannon.  Joseph decides that Shannon is better of without him, so he leaves.  A doctor has been called and arrives as Joseph is leaving the area.

Ozark Mountains, eight months later.  Joseph is working on the railroad tracks out west.  While he works he has lots of good memories about being with Shannon.  One day while working on laying track, a man points out a huge wagon train, saying that all those folks are headed for Oklahoma Territory. 

At night Joseph dreams about seeing his dad again and him telling Joseph that a man without land is not a man.  In the morning when he wakes he sees the same wagon train heading for Oklahoma.  This time he grabs his stuff and runs over and starts walking along with the wagon train, destination Oklahoma.  This time, however, he has a little money of his own to make do with. 

Oklahoma Territory.  The wagon train arrives in Oklahoma Territory.  Joseph gets on the long line of people waiting to register their intention to join the land race at the Land Office. 

A cavalry man explains to those registering:  "Folks, each quarter section is marked.  You run for land, remove the marker and drive in your own stake.  The race begins tomorrow at noon."

After registering, Joseph goes to buy a horse.  The fellow only has two left.  One is an old horse but very dependable.  The other horse is "green broke", meaning he's a lot faster, but there is no telling what the horse is going to do.  He says Joseph might end up in Canada with the green broke horse.  Joseph chooses the dependable horse.

Joseph walks around with his horse and a black smith throws an old horse shoe out that lands up leaning on Joseph's boot.  That brings back memories of the last time a horse shoe landed against his boot, he met Shannon.  He looks around and sees someone who sure looks like Shannon.  He takes another look at the woman but laughs and concludes that he must be seeing things. 

Actually, it was Shannon that Joseph saw.  And now she has to instruct her mother on the proper way to wash one's clothes in a bucket.  Now Daniel and Stephen come back from breaking the law.  Daniel tells his wife that they crossed the starting line and the cavalry shot at him. Nora tells Daniel that she will not have him racing in tomorrow's competition, but of course, Daniel is going to be in that race.  Stephen tells Shannon that he found their paradise, 20 miles straight west of the encampment.  The place has a winding stream just like Shannon dreamed of.  Shannon is a bit peeved at Stephen because she wanted to go with him.  Stephen says the illegal foray was too dangerous for her to come but tomorrow they shall ride side by side.  Shannon's heart just doesn't seem to be in this race. 

Shannon goes back to hanging up the clothes, when she hears Joseph say:  "Hello, Shannon."  They stare at each other for a moment and then Shannon says that she suspected that she might see Joseph here in Oklahoma.  They talk about the land race.  Then there are some awkward moments of silence between them and she reluctantly agrees that things turned out the way they should have.  She wishes him good luck and he wishes her good luck and they shake hands.   Joseph starts walking away but turns to say that he admires the way that Shannon never gave up on her dream.   She's a corker. 

Joseph runs into Stephen, who tells him to stay away from Shannon.  Stephen even threatens Joseph by saying that in the race tomorrow with all it's confusion, someone could get shot.  Joseph just walks away without saying anything to Stephen.

At night, Joseph gets himself thoroughly drunk.  He goes to go get his horse and finds that the od horse has just up and died. 

September 16, 1893.  Cherokee Strip Land Run.  The wagons and horses head for the starting line.  Joseph shows up on the "green horse" and the horse is still trying to buck him off.  Daniel is breaking the law again because he snuck ahead to claim the plot of land he wanted.  Nora is with him and she doesn't like this.  Daniel tells her:  "Pretend we're starting out in life instead of ending up."

The bugle sounds and the race is about to start.  Joseph is still having problems with his horse.  Stephen comes along with Shannon and he starts making fun of Joseph's problems.  He even gets Joseph thrown off his horse because he shakes his flag marker in front of the skittish horse.  Shannon comes over and tells Joseph to grab the horse by the bit. 

The cannon is fired and off they go.  And what a mess.  Horses and wagons are bumping into each other and many wagons are overturned.  Joseph gets a delayed start because of horse problems.  He finally slugs the horse in the face and it settles down.  And off goes Joseph.  He sees Stephen and Shannon ahead of him and he follows them.  A horse falls on top of its owner.  A man gets shot by another man. 

The riders are coming over the hill and Nora plants their flag in the correct place and throws the old marker away.   Stephen and Shannon reach their land first, but Shannon delays heading down to the stream.  Stephen tells her to come on.  The horse is going so fast down the hill to the stream that it immediately has to dive into the stream and throws Shannon off the horse and into the stream.  She shouts for Stephen to wait for her.  And now here comes Joseph down the hill.  He asks if Shannon is alright, but she just tells him:  "Go, Joseph.  Go!"

Stephen charges at Joseph.  He pulls out his pistol to shoot Joseph, but Joseph grabs the pistol hand and keeps slugging Stephen until the man falls off his horse and minus his gun.  Joseph tells him:  "You're not in Ireland anymore, you arrogant bastard!"  Joseph rides ahead and reaches the land marker first.  He shouts to the oncoming Stephen:  "This land is mine!  Mine by destiny!"  Stephen and Shannon stop their horses.  Shannon tells Joseph to claim his land, claim it!  Stephen charges his horse at Joseph to knock him over.  Joseph charges at Stephen and then grabs onto him.  The horse falls on top of Joseph and Stephen escapes unharmed.  Shannon yells out for Joseph and runs to him.  She runs toward Joseph but now Stephen tries to stop her.  She slaps him hard and tells him to leave.  She goes to care for Joseph.  Stephen is upset now and angry.  He tells Shannon:  "You've made your choice. "  He gets on his horse and rides away. 

Joseph, like his father, says he feels he's dying.  Shannon says he's not going to die and tells him to look into her eyes.  Joseph goes unconscious and Shannon fears that he is dead.  She starts crying over Joseph's body begging him not to leave her.  And then, like his father, he awakens.  She tells Joseph that he died.  Joseph says:  "Aye, but you can be sure I won't be dying twice."  She starts kissing him all over his face and mouth.

And now other claim stakers come riding fast.  The two together hold up their flag marker and now plunge it upright into the ground.  The riders pass right by them. 

 

My wife and I both liked the film a lot.  Good chemistry between Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman.  They both had that Irish fire in them.  Nice love story.  And there are three periods of history covered:  Irish Land War of the 1890s, urban history of Boston, Massachusetts, USA, and the Oklahoma Land Rush of 1893.   All three periods are interesting in an historical sense.  Great landscape views in the movie. 

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D. 

 


Historical Background:

 

The Land War in Irish history was a period of agrarian agitation in rural Ireland in the 1870s, 1880s and 1890s. The agitation was led by the Irish National Land League and was dedicated to bettering the position of tenant farmers.  The long range goal was to achieve a redistribution of land to tenants from landlords, especially absentee landlords. While there were many violent incidents and some deaths in this campaign, it was not actually a "war", but rather a prolonged period of civil unrest.

The most effective method of the Land League was the boycott, which took its name from when an unpopular landlord's agent, Charles Boycott, was ostracized by the local community. Boycotting was also applied to tenants who wanted to pay their rent, and to the police, as well as shops and other businesses who traded with boycotted people.

Violence used ostensibly in the name of the League also overlapped with robbery, such as the murder of John O'Connell Curtin in County Kerry in November 1885, when resisting a band of "moonlighters" who wanted to rob his gun shop. 

 

Boston, Massachusetts.  The 1840s brought waves of new immigrants from Europe. These included large numbers of Irish and Italians, giving the city a large Roman Catholic population. "Even to the present day, Boston still commands the largest percentage of Irish-descended people of any city in the United States. Thanks to growing numbers, intense group loyalty, and block by block political organization, the Irish took political control of the city, leaving the Yankees in charge of finance, business and higher education. The Irish left their mark on the region in a number of ways: in still heavily Irish neighborhoods such as Charlestown and South Boston; in the name of the local basketball team, the Boston Celtics; in the dominant Irish-American political family, the Kennedys; in a large number of prominent local politicians, such as James Michael Curley; in the establishment of Catholic Boston College as a rival to Harvard; and in underworld figures such as James 'Whitey' Bulger."

 

The Oklahoma Land Rush of 1889 was the first land run into the Unassigned Lands and included all or part of the 2005 modern day Canadian, Cleveland, Kingfisher, Logan, Oklahoma, and Payne counties of the U.S. state of Oklahoma. The land run started at high noon on April 22, 1889, with an estimated 50,000 people lined up for their piece of the available two million acres (8,000 kmē).

The Unassigned Lands were considered some of the best unoccupied public land in the United States. The Indian Appropriations Bill of 1889 was passed and signed into law with an amendment by Illinois Representative William McKendree Springer, that authorized President Benjamin Harrison to open the two million acres for settlement. Due to the Homestead Act of 1862, signed by President Abraham Lincoln, legal settlers could claim lots up to 160 acres (0.65 km2) in size. Provided a settler lived on the land and improved it, the settler could then receive the title to the land.

 

In all, seven land runs took place in Oklahoma:

Land Run of April 22, 1889 took place at high noon and involved the settlement of the Unassigned Lands (most of modern day Canadian, Cleveland, Kingfisher, Logan, Oklahoma, and Payne counties);

Land Run of September 22, 1891 to settle Iowa, Sac and Fox, Potawatomi, and Shawnee lands;

Land Run of September 23, 1891 to settle Tecumseh, the pre-designated location of the county seat of County B, later renamed as Pottawatomie County;

Land Run of September 28, 1891 to settle Chandler, the pre-designated location of the county seat of County A, later renamed as Lincoln County;

Land Run of April 19, 1892 to settle the Cheyenne and Arapaho land;

Land Run of September 16, 1893 (Cherokee Strip Land Run) was the largest land run in United States history, four times larger than the land run of 1889. The Cherokee Strip Regional Heritage Center museum at the eastern edge of Enid, Oklahoma commemorates this event; and

Land run of May 23, 1895 to settle the Kickapoo lands.

 

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