The Hired Hand (1971) directed by Peter Fonda starring himself, Warren Oates, Verna Bloom.
We’ve been watching a lot of westerns these days. I said to my man that we should start a western film blog. Last night I viewed a film called The Hired Hand. The soundtrack and images are unique for a western. The thesis of this film is multi-layered and caught me off guard with a richness that seems to project the direction and uniqueness of Peter Fonda. Not to underestimate writer Alan Sharp, but what caught me off guard was a quote read aloud by Warren Oates while he and Peter Fonda’s characters were resting in a lovely open wild scene. He reads,
“His disciples said to him, “When will the kingdom come?” Jesus said, “It will not come by, waiting for it. It will not be a matter of saying ‘here’ it is or ‘there it is.’ Rather, the kingdom’ of the father is spread out upon the earth, and ‘men do not see it,” (113)
Today I awoke wondering about the quote. It was not a quote from the new testament. I know I studied that particular quote before. Yet I asked myself where? Then I did a little research and found its house. Instantly I was surprised that this quote was even used. It was a quote from the Gospel of Thomas. Included in The Nag Hammadi Library. (On my bookshelves collecting dust) This collection was not included in the bible for historical absurd reasons. The books were not discovered until 1940. Although scripture historians knew about the books before hand. So, having a cowboy from the late 1890s read from the Gospel of Thomas seemed unusual. Not historically accurate but was this on purpose or is there something more to the story.
The film is about three characters and their love for each other. The woman played by Verna Bloom is a hearty farmer who is alone raising her young daughter. She is more male like and seems less like a female. Even using her hired men for sex. Paying them for work on the farm and for pleasure in her bed. This all came about due to her husband leaving her. She took on the responsibilities of the farm like a man. Owning the land with true action. She was very successful.
Another quote from the Gospel of Thomas that follows the one mentioned above is not included in this film, if only indirectly.
“Simon Peter said ‘to them, “Let Mary leave us, for women are not worthy of life,”
Jesus said, “I myself shall lead her’ in order to make her male, so that ‘she too may become a living spirit resembling ‘you males. For every woman who will make herself male will enter the kingdom of heaven. “ (114)
This is the last quote included in the Gospel of Thomas and fits like a perfect jewel within the thesis of this bright film from the 1970s. A generational call to the world too. Of equality for women in all ways of life from the land towards the heavens. One can take this on to a good Depth Psychology/Jungian study, yet I will leave it here. Peter Fonda is an amazing fellow!