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This Review Reveals Minor Details About the Plot.

Desperate Times

Silverado (1985) on IMDb

Plot Overview

Ex-con Emmett (Scott Glenn) latches onto ex-con Paden (Kevin Kline) in the American West for mutual protection during the era of re­con­struc­tion shortly after the Civil War. They stop off at the town of Hurley to meet Emmett's brother Jake (Kevin Costner), and there they stick up for big “buck” Malachi ‘Mal’ Johnson (Danny Glover) who had a bit of a run-in with the locals, “Just like Georgia.” They all four get booted out of town.

Emmett and Jake are going to Silverado to see their sister before heading on to California. Mal is going to his family's home­stead near Silverado per his mother's mailed request nine months earlier—mail was slow. And Paden is just relying on luck to bring him a desired future but will stop at Silverado because it (likely) has a saloon and (likely) some women.

On the way they encounter a wagon train of homesteaders heading to the south of Silverado to purchase some spreads, but they'd been robbed of their needed stake. Mal having some soldiering experience decides to pursue the crooks, taking with him three men. Emmett takes a fancy to a pretty pioneer woman whose husband doesn't make it back. The four amigos will have to choose sides in a looming range war between farmers and ranchers.


boy and dogThe writer/director kept in mind that this story is of people starting a new society in the west. Some­how he tapped into the arche­type of Noah's family starting a new world after the great flood. Paden would be the Noah figure, They both loved the animals. Paden's horse loved him so much that it gave him (yuck!) kisses upon being reunited. There was a dog he rescued at personal expense (“he went to jail for a dog.”) And he helped manage a great stam­pede. There is one image of him scouting and leading a wagon train fording a river, bringing people to safety through water. The most telling identification of Paden with Noah, how­ever, is when we meet a disha­bille Paden lying prone in the desert in his long johns reminding us of when a drunken Noah was lying uncovered in his tent.

The four heroes in “Silverado” would correspond to Noah and his three sons: (Gen. 9:18-19) “And the sons of Noah, that went forth of the ark, were Shem, and Ham, and Japheth: and Ham is the father of Canaan. These are the three sons of Noah: and of them was the whole earth overspread.” Siblings tend to pair up, and Shem & Japheth were a duo of some kind, but Ham being the odd man out picked up his youngest son Canaan in the biblical narrative. In “Silverado” the two brothers Emmett and Jake are one pair, and Mal the odd man out pairs up with his sister Rae (Lynn Whitfield) being the only one he can turn to.

(Gen. 9:20-23) “And Noah began to be an husbandman, and he planted a vineyard: And he drank of the wine, and was drunken; and he was uncovered within his tent. And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the naked­ness of his father, and told his two brethren with­out. And Shem and Japheth took a garment, and laid it upon both their shoulders, and went back­ward, and covered the naked­ness of their father; and their faces were back­ward, and they saw not their father's naked­ness.” When Paden was robbed and left in his under­wear, his assailants “were laughing when they left me. Thought it was real funny.” Emmett helps Paden get his “rig” back: his hat, his horse, and his pearl-handled Colt. Jake covers Paden with his own coat in the jail cell in Hurley. These two would represent Shem and Japheth who covered Noah. Mal who appears at a hotel bar complaining he hasn't had a drink of whiskey or slept in a bed for ten days would seem to be mocking Paden who recently had been with­out water or a bed­roll in the desert. As such Mal would represent Ham who mocked Noah.

(Gen. 9:24-27) “And Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son had done unto him. And he said, Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren. And he said, Blessed be the LORD God of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant. God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant.” Japheth was to be integrated with (to dwell in the tents of) Shem. From Shem come the Semites, of course. Writer Bodie Hodge holds forth that: “Generally, from the Middle East in the land of Shinar (modern-day Iraq, where Babel was), Japheth's descendants went north toward Europe and Asia, Ham's went toward Africa, and Shem's remained in the Middle East” (183). The servitude of Ham as passing to his youngest son Canaan also encompassed his eldest son Cush, see Gen. 10:6. Cush is Hebrew for black, whose descendants settled in Africa. Canaan is the youngest son of Ham carrying the curse on the whole family by a figure of speech called a synecdoche whereby a part stands for the whole. (Jasher 73:35) “For the Lord our God gave Ham the son of Noah, and his children and all his seed, as slaves to the children of Shem and to the children of Japheth, and unto their seed after them for slaves, forever.”

Lincoln's faceKeeping in mind the time frame of this movie, President Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Procla­mation, to the newly liberated had “recommend[ed] … that, in all cases when allowed they labor faith­fully for reason­able wages.” A lot of blacks migrated North to work in the factories, as did Mal in the movie. It was easier than working the farm in Georgia, which their parents were willing to do having been inured to hard labor as slaves. Rae didn't like the hard farm work, either. She became a woman of easy virtue in town. Pioneer woman Hannah (Rosanna Arquette) in this movie poignantly explains to her would-be suitor how the farming life she desires, “to make some­thing big,” is a hard life, one that discourages men to apply. As for Mal and Rae, their chosen occupations would be within their rights assigned by Lincoln, but they were a big disappointment to their family.

They did, however, serve the white settlers big time, so there's that. And if Hurley's progressive, British-born sheriff John Langston (John Cleese) claimed it within his jurisdiction to expel Mal's “kind,” then when or if a deputy Paden replaces the sheriff in Silverado, it will be within his jurisdiction to maintain the peace there by his lights. He exis­tential­ly represents Noah whose jurisdiction it was to assign the races their roles.

Production Values

” (1985) was directed by Lawrence Kasdan. It was written by brothers Lawrence Kasdan and Mark Kasdan. It stars Kevin Kline, Scott Glenn, and Kevin Costner. There's a lot of acting talent on set. It's rated PG–13. There's no sex scene in it and the only kissing scenes involve a horse or some hay. It contains a little swearing and a single use of the nigger n-word—objected to by a sheriff with more refined speech. Those who caught lead fell down dead with­out any gore or suffering. There was some chaw tobacco expec­tor­ated and a fair amount of watered down whiskey imbibed. The causes seemed right. The town was constructed large and set in what could have been any western state. The stunts were care­fully done. The music score by Bruce Boughton was western style appropriate.

Review Conclusion w/ Christian Recommendation

This was a modern adult western that could be appreciated by the whole family. Old timers will recognize various tropes, but it's self-aware enough to keep up with the times. Here is one worth seeing if you like westerns or just for variety.

Movie Ratings

Action factor: Edge of your seat action-packed fun. Suitability for Children: Suitable for children 13+ years with guidance. Special effects: Well done special effects. Video Occasion: Good for Groups. Suspense: Keeps you on the edge of your seat. Overall movie rating: Five stars out of five.

Works Cited

Scripture quoted from the King James Version. Pub. 1611, rev. 1769. Software.

The Book of Jasher. Trans­lated from the Hebrew into English (1840). Photo litho­graphic reprint of exact edition published by J.H. Parry & Co., Salt Lake City: 1887. Muskogee, OK: Artisan Pub., 1988. Print, WEB.

Hodge, Bodie. Tower of Babel: The Cultural History of Our Ancestors. Green Forest, AR: New Leaf Pub., 2013. Print.