by Desmond White
There is nothing quite like living in an isolated mountain community. That is unless you too have tried nailing your feet to a bee’s nest.
But at least my mountain escapades have allowed me to catch up with my movies. Hells bells have I seen a lot of movies! That’s why I’ve decided to unpack my mountain living experience through the cinematic cyclone below. Three films, my future wildling, that best exemplify the careers of the Jeremiah Johnsons of our world. For whatever reason, the film Jeremiah Johnson hasn’t been included below.
First, we have…
After becoming the Winter caretaker for an isolated hotel, Jack Nicholson decides to entertain his boring, squeamish family by going insane. Based on Stephen King’s own hilarious experiences balancing heavy drug-use and alcoholism with excellent parenting.
Liam Neeson and some oil rig workers crash in the Alaskan wilderness and are immediately hunted by wolves. Notable in that most of the workers suffer from non-wolfy accidents – some drown, some drop out of trees, one black guy simply falls asleep and never wakes up.
Crazily enough, by switching every reference to “wolves” in the movie with “coyotes,” you get a frank insider’s perspective on mountain-living in California. Here are just a few surprisingly accurate transitions:
“Coyotes are man eaters and they don’t give a shit about berries and shrubs.”
“Coyotes have a territorial range of over three hundred miles and a killer range of thirty.”
“We kill the coyotes. One at a time. Tip the numbers. That’s what they’re doing to us.”
In this 1990 adaptation also based on a Stephen King novel, a friendly nurse rescues a writer from a car crash and restores his health. A film about friendship, redemption, and possibly romance? I don’t know, I haven’t seen it.
In many ways this film depicts the helpful and friendly atmosphere of the mountain community, which at times will make you feel at home forever. I’ve had many a friendly stranger tell me that I can never leave, even if I try. The mountain will never let me go. I’ve always seen these nightly intrusions (usually initiated by kicking in my door) as heartwarming, although that might just be the sedatives kicking in.