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Archive for February 16th, 2016

My Side Of The Mountain (1969)  –  movie review
Today’s movie review is for a family movie made in 1969.  The story revolves around twelve / thirteen-year old Sam Gribley (played by Teddy Eccles), who is a devotee of Thoreau and who fancies himself a naturalist.  Sam decides to runaway to spend a  year in the Canadian woods to see if he can make it as a self-sufficient spirit.  The decision is spurred by his father’s promise of a summer trip that doesn’t pan out due to work responsibilities.
Sam gathers up his supplies (a small ax and a flint) at a few local stores and then hops a bus to the forest.  On arriving he sets up his campsite and begins to live off the land.  He has a number of adventures including a narrow escape from a bear and stealing a falcon chick from its nest.  He manages to get by quite well until a stranger – Bando (played by Theodore Bikel) – stumbles onto his camp.  The stranger ends up being both friendly and useful and they form a friendship.  They are together for a few weeks and Sam realizes he was actually lonely.  Actually, Sam has made two friends – the other being the local town’s librarian  – Miss Turner (played by Tudi Wiggins) – who let him read books about raising and training falcons.
Anyway, blah, blah, blah, Sam gets caught in a blizzard and is snowbound in his home (a hollowed out tree).  Sam’s two friends come to see if he survived the storm and end up saving Sam by digging him out of the snow.  Sam then decides to return home to his family feeling he has learned as much as he can from his adventure.
I first saw this move on original release in the theater, so I must have been fourteen at the time.  I have not seen it since, but I’ll be darned if I didn’t completely remember the climactic scene of getting snowbound in the tree.  I also have very strong memories of several other parts of the movie (the adventures, not the “blah, blah, blah” parts).  So, is it a “good” movie?  I think if you can remember a movie after forty-five years and only seeing it once, it’s a pretty good movie.  Is it at all realistic?  Nope.  The kid would have been dead many times over.  He failed to have enough food to last a winter and more importantly, he failed to gather enough firewood to last even more than a few days.  Setting all that aside, was it believable?  Surprisingly, yes and it reminded me a lot of “The Martian“, in that survival is about dealing with your most immediate problems first.  The movie also reminded me the first true “right of passage” into manhood is not age, but survival.  And, that they are different things.
Final recommendation: Strong Recommendation.  The is a family movie that doesn’t insult the intelligence of kids or adults.  As such, you can share it with your young (5 to 10 yrs) nieces and nephews and your own kids.  It is shot with a low budget and “looks” like an old fashioned movie, so I think kids over 10 years old might find it blasé by today’s standards.  But, I enjoyed it at age 14 and then again at age 60, so go figure…
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On This Day In:
2015 I’ve Got To Run
2014 Which Is It?
2013 Making You Stronger
2012 Sick Of Being Sick
Greater Than Power
2011 Clear, Specific And Measurable
2010 The Runner’s High
Into The Dark…

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