Every time Hollywood produces another Western – two of the last very good ones “Open Range”, 2003 and “Unforgiven”, 1992 (Won Best Picture) – we are all reminded of how difficult a time it was in the days of the mid 1800’s, most especially around the years of the Civil War. The new movie “News of the World” is surprisingly Tom Hanks very first Western. The story is a simple one, a man by the name of Captain Kidd, played by Tom Hanks travels from town to town and reads newspapers to groups of people – and makes a little money doing this. Back in the dark days in this country of the mid-1800’s so many people could not read, so this service of reading newspapers to a group of people was a viable profession.
One day Kidd rides by a wooded area, where there is a black man who was hung. Within the wreckage of the mans wagon, is a young girl Johanna, played by Helena Zengel, who was taken by Indians after her parents were killed and then released by the same Indians, making her an orphan twice. Zengel has a look about her that almost makes her appear to be someone who was alive during the 1800’s. Kidd then takes the girl to the military authorities along with her papers to try and get them to take her to her relatives, many miles away. After they refuse, what follows is a long and hard road trip with Kidd taking care of the child and encountering two groups of extreme lowlife that always seem to be highly prevalent in all Westerns. There is a great gunfight, with even the girl getting in involved within a brilliant scene that involving quarters to load a rifle cartridge. The ending of this movie was brilliantly conceived with a very good conclusion that was both emotional and satisfying.
The Rotten Tomatoes ratings for this movie is a very solid 85% and I agree with this opinion. Tom Hanks might be nominated for another Academy Award for this movie, for his strong acting and for the extreme lack of movies released this year due to the horrible Pandemic. I highly recommend this film.