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102 Ratings

The Big Trail

United States, 1930
Adventure, Western, Romance


Breck leads a wagon train of pioneers through Indian attack, storms, deserts, swollen rivers, down cliffs and so on while looking for the murder of a trapper and falling in love with Ruth.

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The Big Trail Directed by Raoul Walsh, Louis R. Loeffler
As a film, The Big Trail shows its age in places, but its general vigour and expanse is still breathtaking. As a depiction of the travails of early pioneers, it still dwarfs many amongst generations of imitations. The plot is merely sufficient to lend the film a through-line that sustains the panoramic study in a human tide on the move.
February 16, 2016
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These details, ostensibly background, carry scarcely less weight than the foreground, and this creates an unusual effect. One feels that the protagonist of the film isn’t just Breck Coleman, but the entire community that travels along with him. The drama isn’t only a matter Breck’s avenging the death of Ben Grizzel or winning the heart of Ruth Cameron, but of the communal fate.
July 18, 2013
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The heart of the drama is raw survival in the face of natural obstacles, as seen in the colossal, terrifying reconstruction of the perilous trek, with horses and cattle, through rough rivers and down sheer rock faces by means of tenuous ropes. Integrating the settlers’ passionate mortal conflicts into the landscape, Walsh turns the theatrical limitations of early sound technique to an advantage, composing vast, static tableaux with the mighty breadth and noble pace of epic stanzas.
July 15, 2013
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