Robert Redford plays a man who has been in the Mexican War and has decided to leave civilization behind. He becomes a mountain man.
Of course it is not easy to go from a life of civilization to one where you must learn to survive off the land. The land and those people and animals who inhabit it are unforgiving.
Will Greer plays a mountain man named Bear Claws. He teaches Johnson how to survive in the wilderness.
Johnson comes across a woman who's family has been massacred by Indians and she has been driven mad with grief. Johnson has no choice but to take the small child who managed to escape being killed. The child never talks.
They come across a man who has been buried up to his head in sand.
Upon saving the man some things occur that lead the man, the boy and Johnson to a group of Indians. The chief gives Johnson his daughter as a present. Johnson does not want the gift but it would be very offensive to turn down such a gift (and cost him his life).
The boy, Johnson and the young woman become a family and for the first time Johnson seems to find some happiness in life.
Of course being a movie this happiness cannot last and Johnson finds himself alone again. As he has managed to survive some incredible attacks by both animals and Indian warriors, he becomes a legend to the Indians.
At the end of the film the Chief and Johnson reach a silent reconciliation.
I like this movie because it is filmed against a large backdrop -- the Rocky Mountains. It is a big movie with big characters. The movie is glorified, admittedly, but still presents a picture of a time when people truly could leave civilization behind and live in wild, open country.
Though the movie is 40 years old, I am glad I finally saw it. I found it to be moving and inspirational. I am not exactly sure why but I did. I think because of the scenery and just the idea of living on one's own in a rugged country. Overcoming obstacles is a central theme in this movie.
Of course movies are movies and life is life. But it is still fun to think about the different paths a person might have taken in life. This movie presents one man's path and where it led him.