ROYAL OAK (WWJ) – The movie, Meek’s Cutoff, takes place in the year 1845. It takes its name from what is referred to by The Oregon Historic Trails Fund as “perhaps the most infamous of all Oregon Trail branches.”

“Meek” is Stephen Meek, a mountain man who has been hired by a wagon team of three families to guide them over the Cascade Mountains. Meek has claimed to know a short cut, however, the group becomes lost. While struggling to find their way, the families find themselves fighting hunger and thirst, as well as dealing with the difficult decision as to whether or not to continue following Meek or put their trust in a Native American wanderer who crosses their path.

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While watching this journey unfold, one couldn’t help but imagine how difficult life must have been for the families traveling as part of that wagon trail. While there are only three families following Meek in the film, in actuality there were more than 500* wagons making their way through what seems like a “no man’s land.”

My suggestion: see the movie and then do your own research for more on the story. Or, you may want to do your research first. Whichever you decide, I think it’ll give you a better perspective about what is taking place onscreen.


Michelle Williams Emily Tetherow
Bruce Greenwood Stephen Meek
Will Patton Solomon Tetherow
Paul Dano Thomas Gately
Zoe Kazan Millie Gately
Shirley Henderson Glory White
Neal Huff William White
Rod Rondeaux The Cayuse
Tommy Nelson Jimmy White


Meek’s Cutoff was directed and edited by Kelly Reichardt. According to Reichardt’s bio, American landscapes and narratives of the road are familiar themes in her work. Meek’s Cutoff was filmed in the dry plains of Oregon’s high desert, and another Reichardt film – Wendy and Lucy – was filmed along the railroad tracks that surround an Oregon neighborhood. Her filmography also includes Old Joy, Travis, Then A Year, Ode and River Of Grass.

The writer of Meek’s Cutoff is Jon Raymond, who’s also the author of the novel “The Half-Life,” and “Livability,” a collection of short stories that became the films Wendy and Lucy and Old Joy.

Click here to visit the official website.

*The Oregon Historic Trails Fund

– Terri Lee, Entertainment Reporter


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