October 22, 2021
Everyone is allowed
⁇Sober and emotional.⁇
Cattle breeding is a dying profession, at least within the traditions of animal husbandry. Farms are being modernized and, despite more hard work, work is being done more efficiently today than it was a few decades ago. Like most businesses. But some people suspect lost time and are almost indifferent to development.
John Hoyland, born in Norway, is one of them. Over 90, he runs a large farm in the US state of Montana, and lives just like his parents lived before him.
The starting point of the documentary “John – The Last Norwegian Cowboy” is his daily life. It’s a beautiful film about knowing that no one will notice you leave a tradition.
Fighting for existence
Director Frode Phimland spends a lot of time in Montana, where there is nothing to do. John lives alone, not married, living with both parents and sister. He does not touch alcohol and does not smoke. He often calls his 13-year-old childhood friend Jim, who sometimes lived on the high edge, to keep him updated on the weather and everyday trivia.
You get the feeling of a lonely life, even if you don’t say it directly, it’s a tragedy to guess from John’s monologue. He has fought for his life all his life, but now he understands that it is not many years yet and wonders what will happen to his farm. He has no children in charge, and wealthy, interested buyers know very little about how the mill works.
Without enough language
Fimland has a demanding task. John shares a lot, but there are many indications that he does not have enough expressive language. He was a Stoic man, probably with many thoughts, but many of them never came out. It is expressed through his eyes and his everyday philosophical reflections, which evoke thought and pain in this beautiful landscape.
The film is slow, without too much drama, and delicious. It’s a cozy movie, a movie you can dream of, in a different reality than most people live in. It seems hard, demanding and unnecessarily difficult, but certainly evokes an appeal.
The film is also solidly shot and uses the landscape and John’s face for its value. Close-ups catch his sore eyes, which are quickly cleared.
Being a film without much progress, it is exciting to follow from the first moment. Fimland captures the atmosphere and is not afraid to linger in it.
“John – Norway’s last cowboy” takes us to the center of everyday life that many have forgotten. Very few people treat cattle like John or his age. As he explains it, this was his life, and probably a tradition with him dies.
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