Take the news from the passenger

Take the news from the passenger

“News of the World”, directed by Paul Greengrass and distributed outside the US by Netflix, draws attention with the acting of Tom Hanks and Helena Zengel in the lead roles. Set in the aftermath of the American Civil War, we witness the adventures of two lone travelers whose paths cross.

It’s unbelievable but the first Western movie in Tom Hanks’ career is “News of the World.” Finding an actor who became a Hollywood star and didn’t turn a Western is not an easy task, but now that Tom Hanks has finally shown interest in this genre, we can take a sigh of relief and move on with our life (millet will say hello to the Western with their next movie “Killers of the Flower Moon”. Scorsese and De Niro). Aside from joking aside, it is not surprising to see that the Western genre, which has long passed its golden age but is still indelible, can still appeal to the audience today, after all, the stories in which the ordinary person is the closest to a hero often fall within the limits of this mythical genre, and the audience is also the thriller, adventure, He always feels close to this genre where the most familiar clichés of romance (whatever comes to your mind) are exhibited, no matter where in the world he lives.


British director Paul Greengrass, who previously worked with Tom Hanks in the movie “Captain Phillips” (and his first Western, “News of the World,” by the way), is one of the outstanding filmmakers of our time and this last film, it must be admitted, technically of his most skillful works. Based on real events such as “Bloody Sunday”, “United 93”, “Green Zone”, “22 July” and the aforementioned “Captain Phillips”, mostly political tensions are at the forefront, the action itself is intense. Paul Greengrass, who made dramatic films that he felt, takes the viewer to the immediate 5 years after the American Civil War in “News of the World”, which he shot based on a novel, while showing the turmoil of a country trying to heal its wounds, on the other hand, it seems extremely incompatible at first glance. He is making a road movie that turns into a common fate of a couple.

Fighting on the losing side in the American Civil War, Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd is a man who travels town to town and makes a living by reading aloud from the newspapers he has. You can also see it as a very primitive social media; a man who finds interesting news for people who do not have the opportunity to read newspapers or who are not interested in this issue in some way, and who also narrates and dramatizes them in his own way … Did such men really exist in those years, or this is just a profession born of the imagination of Paulette Jiles, the author of the novel Jiles says this character was inspired by a friend of his great great-grandfather who did a similar job (even called Aloysius Cornelius Kydd) and adds that there is no one else to do it. After all, it’s a very interesting idea. Its tip also touches on the “free press” issue. Indeed, the fact that the film started a popular uprising against a powerful miner who bullied a town at some point, just by reading the news, is the extreme point of this side of the “News of the World” in the story. Moreover, everything takes place in front of a background in which elements such as discrimination, racism, hatred and violence are not lacking, just in the period when the issue of slavery continues to be discussed in the most crucial way (think slavery is at the center of a huge American Civil War).


But at the heart of the film is another more dominant story: the company of Captain Kidd and 10-year-old Johanna … A German whose real family was killed during an indigenous attack years ago, Johanna, who was raised by the Kiowa tribe who kidnapped her, is now only their has turned into a child who speaks his language. The Kiowa family was also murdered, and it was up to Captain Kidd to take him to the living relatives of his true parents, who lived miles away. A lot will happen along the way (including a tension-laden conflict scene mastered by Greengrass) and a naturally developing bond of love between them, even if they do not resemble each other at all, will lead them to a companionship that will perhaps continue beyond this journey.

Tom Hanks, of course, with his usual sincere warmth, pulls the audience to his side without any difficulty, while Helena Zengel, who will surprisingly impress those who will watch her for the first time in the role of little Johanna, is carrying the real burden of the film. Zengel apparently even influenced Tom Hanks, who we had seen a much more striking performance in the German film “System Crasher” (he said “He plays extremely well” during filming) and there is no doubt that he has a long career (if he made the right choices, of course). waiting for him. It’s no wonder that Zengel, who was nominated for the Golden Globe in the Supporting Actress category, is also nominated for an Oscar in the same category.

“News of the World” is of course a remotely salute to “The Searchers”, a classic of the Western genre, reminding one side of “Big Man, Little Love” from our cinema, and ultimately the split (or division) of today’s divided USA of the 1870s. An elaborate movie that connects to his USA with a mental streak. The scenario may not sound as strong as you expected, but remember that we live in a country that is divided (or struggled to be divided by the most competent hands) and in this difficult atmosphere, even though there are masks on our faces that make it difficult to breathe constantly, there are stories that suggest friendship, love, and understanding. we need. Speaking of mask, how many points should it give to the fact that the first news Tom Hanks read at the beginning of the movie, which was shot before the pandemic, was telling an epidemic? Such is the irony of life.

Emrah Kolukisa
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