AT MY JOB the other day I was discussing western movies with a co-worker. We got around eventually to the 1958 classic, "The Big Country." Like "El Cid," it has unbelievably beautiful photography, dynamic characters played by the likes of Greg Peck, Jean Simmons, and Burl Ives, and a rousing musical score-- in this instance, by Jerome Moross. (Plus it has "El Cid"'s Charlton Heston in a supporting role, as well as one of my favorite all-time actresses, Carroll Baker, playing the spoiled daughter of a wealthy landowner.)
Afterward I looked up a few YouTube videos of the flick on the Internet. I haven't seen the film in years-- never on a movie screen. The opening credits and the trick riding sequence alone convey the movie's magic. It captures America in all its size, beauty, and sheer exuberance. The year 1958 stood at a peak of American confidence. There was no doubt THEN about ourselves and our culture. The great movie westerns like "The Big Country" were a celebration of American culture, history, and spirit. A wonderful spirit which no one should apologize for. Didn't American culture, freedom, and energy capture the imagination of the world?
What's my point? My point is that America needs to renew itself by remembering why it was founded, by reconnecting with its authentic culture and its cultural and historical roots. America is a unique place. "American" is a distinct identity. My forebears didn't come here to be watered-down facsimiles of the world they left. They came to become American-- and they became American, melding themselves into America; earning that through their belief in American ideals and by their hard work. America isn't some multicultural imitation of Europe, Asia, Africa, Mexico, or Arabia. It's a unique place and thing unto itself. The minute we throw away that identity-- the minute we become afraid to embrace and defend it and this land, this place-- then we become no longer visionary and great.