Shenandoah (film)

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Shenandoah (1965) is an American western film set in Virginia during the American Civil War.  Charlie Anderson is a single father and farmer who has no slaves and wishes to stay out of the war.

Written by James Lee Barrett, directed by Andrew V. McLaglen.
Two Mighty Armies Trampled Its Valley…A Fighting Family Challenged Them Both! (taglines)

Charlie Anderson[edit]

  • My corn I take serious because it's my corn, and my potatoes and my tomatoes and fences I take note of because they're mine.  But this war is not mine and I take no note of it!
  • [after Boy Anderson is abducted by Union soldiersNow it concerns us.
  • You run a sad kind of train, mister.  It takes people away when they don't want to go, and won't bring them back when they're ready.
  • I'm not going to kill you.  I want you to live.  I want you to live to be an old man, and I want you to have many, many, many children, and I want you to feel about your children then the way I feel about mine now.  And someday, when a man comes along and kills one of 'em, I want you to remember!  Okay?  I want you to remember.
  • There's nothing much I can tell you about this war.  It's like all wars, I suppose.  The undertakers are winning it.  Oh, the politicians will talk a lot about the "glory" of it, and the old men'll talk about the "need" of it—the soldiers, they just want to go home.

Charlie Anderson's prayer[edit]

We cleared this land;
We plowed it, sowed it, and harvested it.
We cooked the harvest.
It wouldn't be here—we wouldn't be eating it—if we hadn't done it all ourselves.
We worked dog-bone hard for every crumb and morsel
But we thank you just the same anyway, Lord, for this food we're about to eat.


Jacob Anderson:  They come closer everyday, pa.
Charlie Anderson:  They on our land?
Jacob Anderson:  No, sir.
Charlie Anderson:  Well, then, it doesn't concern us.

Charlie Anderson:  I've got five hundred acres of good, rich dirt, here, and as long as the rains come and the sun shines, it'll grow anything I have a mind to plant.  And we pulled every stump, and we cleared every field, and we done it ourselves without the sweat of one slave.
Johnson:  So?
Charlie Anderson:  "So"!?  So, can you give me one good reason why I should send my family, that took me a lifetime to raise, down that road like a bunch of damn fools to do somebody else's fighting?
JohnsonVirginia needs all of her sons, Mr. Anderson.
Charlie AndersonThat might me so, Johnson, but these are my sons!  They don't belong to the state.  When they were babies, I never saw the state coming around with a spare tit!  We never asked anything of the state, and never expected anything.  We do our own living and thanks to no man for the right.  But seeing as how you're so worried about it, I'll tell ya:  If any of my boys thinks this war's right, and wants to join in, he's free to do it.  You all hear that!?  Did you hear it!?  You wanna dress up like these fellas, go ahead; here's your chance.  [none of Anderson's sons volunteer; the soldier realises he has lost this battle]

Boy Anderson:  What's confiscate mean, pa?
Charlie AndersonSteal!

Sam:  [who has just learned he's being called to service]  I'll hav'ta leave ya; you know that, don't you?  Do you understand?
Jennie:  Do you?

Jennie:  Yes, I'm a woman, but I don't see anybody here that I can't outrun, outride, and outshoot.  I'll unstrap for you, papa, and unhook, and I'll even sit here and watch you ride out of sight.
Charlie Anderson:  And then what?
Jennie:  And then I'll follow.
Charlie Anderson:  That's what I thought.


    • Original ad: all caps
  • Two Mighty Armies Trampled Its Valley…A Fighting Family Challenged Them Both!


Quotes about the film[edit]

  • Stewart uses his vast experience and established screen image as the all-American hero to an advantage in a role, which was made to order as he reached the later phases of his glorious career.  Beginning with his protag's name, Charlie is a classic American hero, played by Cooper, Stewart, and even Bogart, a man initially cherishing isolation and lack of involvement only to be forced into a divisive conflict through circumstances, both personal and political.
  • A successful film not just because of the marriage of the right actor in the appropriate genre, but also the timely infusion of challenging questions about a nation at war.
  • When this movie was released in 1965, the U. S. war in Vietnam had just begun, and antiwar sentiments had not yet began to swell in America.  Libertarians, of course, had opposed the war from the start, but at this time, the public sentiment in these united states was generally in favour of deployment.  Thus, the average moviegoer did not draw any connection between this film and the war when it was released.  A few years later, however, antiwar activists looked back on this libertarian western fondly.
    The antiwar and propertarian message in this film, however, should be looked upon in a broader context.  The message, after all, is timeless.  All wars really do resemble the description given by Mr. Anderson.  Whether it be the War Between the States, the Vietnam War, or our present wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, governments wage them for the perceived benefit of the political class, and they get us to fight for them.  Let us, therefore, dream of a brighter future, a future where property rights are respected and where governments, insofar as they continue to exist, are so weak and powerless that they cannot compel even one man to fight on their behalf.

External links[edit]

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