History 14 Motion Picture Evaluation Form
Student Name: _______________________
Movie Title: 3:10 to Yuma Year Released: 2007
Director: James Mangold Company: Relativity Media
Writer(s): Halsted Welles and Michael Brandt
Starring (main two or three characters)
Russell Crowe as Ben Wade
Christian Bale as Dan Evans
Logan Lerman as William Evans
Did the film win any major awards? It garnered two nominations for the Oscars for Best Achievement in Music and Best Achievement in Sound. Christian Bale was given a special award by the San Diego Film Critics Society for his work on the film.
Describe the Movie’s setting: what years do the story cover, where does the action take
place? The movie is set in 1865-1900s in the towns of Bisbee and Contention in Arizona. Although this is not explicitly mentioned in the movie, it can be easily inferred from one of the main protagonists’ experience of being a Civil War veteran.
Identify one or two famous historical events, trends, or people discussed in the movie:
One of the most obvious historical trends discussed in the movie is the birth of small towns in the desert parts of the United States and the rise of the outlaw phenomenon as a statement of rebellion against local authorities and wealthy bankers. Likewise, the movie captures the historic episode of the United States’ government’s effort to build a national railroad network in order to improve the transportation of goods and people. The movie also shows the construction of tunnels in the country, and the employment of Chinese immigrants as workers and laborers in these activities.
Bonus: What is the last spoken line in the movie? (If a silent movie, describe the last image or dialogue titles): The last spoken line in the movie is “Pa” which is uttered by William Evans as his father dies from a bullet wound from one of Ben Wade’s men. Ben shoots the comrade who shot Dan Evans before boarding the train bound for Yuma. He then whistles to his horse while in the prison train and the horse promptly follows them.
Honor, Respect, and Modernization in 3:10 to Yuma
Director James Mangold’s 2007 remake of the 1957 Western film, 3:10 to Yuma, is a brilliant movie that offers valuable insights into American history. The film, set in Arizona in the period right after the Civil War (between 1865-1910), tells the story of a heavily indebted rancher, Dan Evans, who agrees to be part of the team of escorts that would deliver the outlaw Ben Wade (Russell Crowe) to the train station in Contention and ensure that he gets into the train bound for Yuma where Wade will be tried. Evans is compelled to enlist himself in this dangerous mission in exchange for 200 dollars so he can settle his debts with Glen Hollander, (Lennie Loftin) who has made it clear that he will take Evans’ land and sell it for the railroad expansion unless he pays his debt in full. In the process of transporting Wade, the group encounters many difficulties and loses some of their colleagues from an ambush by American Indians, an encounter with Wade’s old enemies in a newly-built tunnel, and a stand off with Wade’s gang of criminals.
One of the things that make the movie particularly interesting is that it captures the mood and the scenery of its period. For instance, movie’s plot revolves on a train schedule, which tells much about the growing significance of the railroad for the lives of the people especially those in American frontiers who were at the edges of a rapidly emerging capitalist America. On the other hand, the film also captures the desperate mood of this era; this is evident in Evans’ impoverished condition and in the Contention townspeople’s eagerness at helping Wade’s gang of notorious outlaws eliminate the town marshalls guarding the prisoner for $200. With regard to the scenery, the film’s settings are an interesting study of the untamed Western parts of America in its contrasts between the signs of civilization, particularly railroads, tunnels, and towns, on the one hand and the expansive, intimidating wilderness on the other.
Like most Westerns, 3:10 to Yuma portrays the images of the inn, the swinging saloon doors, coaches, guns, small bank, and horseback riding police officers and bandits. The film’s costume also faithfully reflects its period. More importantly, the film’s theme reflects the drastically changing concepts of morality as brought about by the changes in the country’s socio-economic conditions. As a result of the increasing primacy of capital and wealth in society, social values also changed. These changes were diffused rapidly by the emphasis on modern transportation which allowed capitalist norms and attitudes to permeate into the frontier towns. Undoubtedly, it is this question of morality and sense of honor that is explored in 3:10 to Yuma, particularly in the relationships that develop between the complex Ben Wade and his escort Evans. In a town that is slowly being eaten by the concerns of wealth, and where honor and status are equated with a healthy bank account, Wade and Evans are portrayed as lone figures struggling to maintain a sense of honor based on respect that is rapidly being outdated by the enourmous cultural and societal changes.
Unfortunately, very few filmmakers show interest in doing Western films anymore. Hence, Mangold’s decision to recreate an old Western movie—with its heavy tones of honor and morality—in a postmodern world is a strong statement against the dominance of a secular society that believes in nothing. In this aspect, Mangold is just like his characters, who continue to believe that honor and goodness still exist even in an amoral world. Thus, Mangold’s film is worthwhile not only for the window into American history but also for the opportunity for critical reflection that it provides to its viewers.
Mangold, James (2007). 3:10 to Yuma. United States: Relativity Media.