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The Taking (2023)

Opens on September 22

Director: Alexandre O. Philippe Run Time: 76 min. Release Year: 2021

Country: United States
Language: English, Italian with English subtitles

About the film:

World Premiere, 2021 Fantastic Fest

This illuminating essay uses film scenes to tell of the forced cultural appropriation of a world-famous landscape.

Monument Valley is one of the most recognizable landscapes in the world. Its iconographic use in American Westerns has had a lasting influence on stock photography, advertising, and tourism. The valley has been given mythical significance as an image of a “primitive West” firmly in the hands of white people and meant to be protected from intruders. The fact that Monument Valley is traditional Navajo territory has been obscured in the process.

A radical examination of Monument Valley’s representation in cinema and advertising since John Ford’s Stagecoach (1939), The Taking (2023) scrutinizes how a site located on sovereign Navajo land came to embody the fantasy of the “Old West,” replete with self-perpetuating falsehoods, and why it continues to hold mythic significance in the global psyche.

“[An] examination of art’s effect on reality and the selective memory that accompanies the images we see.”

—Faisal Al-Jadir, Film Inquiry

About the filmmaker:

Alexandre O. Philippe is a Swiss film director known for his documentaries. He holds an MFA in dramatic writing from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts and serves as creative director at Exhibit A Pictures. With a body of work that includes SXSW selection Doc of the Dead (2014), and Sundance selections 78/52: Hitchcock’s Shower Scene (2017) and Memory: The Origins of “Alien” (2019), Philippe has developed his own brand of cinema essay exploring the art of filmmaking and its practitioners.

His most recent works include Venice and Sundance selection Leap of Faith: William Friedkin on “The Exorcist” (2020), and The Taking (2021), which premiered at Fantastic Fest and the BFI London Film Festival in late 2021, Tribeca selection Lynch/Oz (2023), and SXSW selection You Can Call Me Bill (2023).

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