On the flight to London, what did the Emirates Entertainment System feature, but The Man From Snowy River.
(NB Apologies to those who do not recognise the grammatical structure of the opening sentence. It is not punctuated with a question mark, largely because it is not a question. It is a correct and recognised statement in Ireland, the socially acceptable response being, ‘Well, isn’t that the feckin grandest.’ If you are paying attention, you will know that is not a question either. I am practicing in preparation for my triumphant return home.)
Of course I watched it. I would have done even if the alternatives hadn’t been ‘Run Fat Boy Run’ and ‘Mamma Mia‘. The plot is still far-fetched and flung together unbelievably tenuously; yet it remains the best two hours of distilled corn you are likely to find in this dimension.
For example, the scene near the end, when Harrison makes the mistake of calling Jim Craig a lad – an easy error to make when his voice hasn’t broken yet:-
“He’s a man,” snarls his estranged, impoverished brother. “A MAN!”
“The Man. From Snawwy Rivvah,” breathes mountain legend Clancy, with a look that, in a porn movie, would sufficiently convey lust.
When I first saw The Man From Snowy River, although I enjoyed it, I didn’t understand Jim Craig’s credentials as a leading man. Only now, with the benefit of maturity, hindsight and imagination, can I recognise his appeal.
Firstly, although it rather spoils the tension that nothing bad ever happens to Jim Craig, I can acknowledge what an attractive trait this is in a man. In real life, I grew up with a pile of people featuring patriotic quotients of Luck Of The Irish to varying degrees, yet I’ve never come across anyone with Jim Craig’s reserves of pure, unadulterated luck. Even on the rare occasions bad things DO happen to Jim Craig, he resolves them ridiculously easily. His father is killed by a homicidal tree within five minutes of the opening credits, but it’s more a plot device than a serious setback. Jim shovels dung onto the boot of his nemesis Curly, and instead of beating him to a bloody pulp and impaling him on a pitchfork, Curly merely sulks and shoots Jim the occasional dirty look.
If you married Jim, you would have the security of knowing your dreams would always come true and your crops would never fail. If you foolishly toppled over a cliff and improbably landed on a small ledge down an otherwise sheer drop, Jim would turn up to rescue you. And of course, you would get to wear corsets and lace up boots with the cutest little kitten heels.
Secondly, you have to admire a man with the confidence to sport a pair of breeches that tight with legs like his. Even as a teenager, I recall being mesmerized by Tom Burlinson’s chubby little legs, and would subsequently spend years pondering whether his arse was too big even for a man who was supposed to spend most of his life astride a horse. Of course, it is indeed too big – for what is a subject of debate – but definitely for wearing breeches that tight. Yet it is impossible not to give respect where it is due.
I had forgotten Sigrid Thornton’s savage monobrow, and how she enunciated everything through pursed lips. This so inspired me I spent an entire summer talking as if trying to unobtrusively spit out a large morsel of food. No doubt it would have been easier and less time-consuming had I emulated her by simply not brushing my hair.
There is a scene where Jim Craig leaps over the reluctant men and rides down the side of a cliff, shot in silence but for report of his horse’s hooves striking the earth. Overlooking the irresponsible risk Jim Craig took with his life and that of a horse that doesn’t even belong to him, it is still awe-inspiring 26 years later