This illuminating essay uses film scenes to tell of the forced cultural appropriation of a world-famous landscape.
Monument Valley is one of the most recognizable landscapes in the world. Its iconographic use in American Westerns has had a lasting influence on stock photography, advertising, and tourism. The valley has been given mythical significance as an image of a “primitive West” firmly in the hands of white people and meant to be protected from intruders. The fact that Monument Valley is traditional Navajo territory has been obscured in the process.
A radical examination of Monument Valley’s representation in cinema and advertising since John Ford’s Stagecoach (1939), The Taking scrutinizes how a site located on sovereign Navajo land came to embody the fantasy of the “Old West,” replete with self-perpetuating falsehoods, and why it continues to hold mythic significance in the global psyche.
Dairy Center for the Arts Boulder, CO • Denver Film Festival Denver, CO • Fantastic Fest Austin, TX • Gimme Some Truth Winnipeg, MB • Hawai'i International Film Festival Honolulu, HI • NorthwestFest Edmonton, AB • Pioneertown International Film Festival Pioneertown, CA • Santa Barbara International Film Festival Santa Barbara, CA
"An examination of art’s effect on reality and the selective memory that accompanies the images we see." - Paddy Wilson, Film Inquiry
"A thoughtful, visually ravishing, politically charged rumination on American cinema's oldest rock stars." - Stephen Dalton, The Film Verdict
“An essay on national identity.” - John DeFore, The Hollywood Reporter
About the filmmaker
Alexandre O. Philippe is a Swiss film director best known for the documentary films Doc of the Dead, The People vs. George Lucas, and the 2017 post-modern documentary examination of the Psycho shower scene directed by Alfred Hitchcock entitled 78/52 which premiered at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival.