3:10 to Yuma
Railway tracks can be visually strong props for photographers and filmmakers as they lead the eye and also offer a palpable sense of travel and adventure. The problem is that train tracks are mostly live and therefore out of bounds for working artists.
Railroads played an integral role in the push West in the 19th century and the pioneering spirit that characterised their construction has long fascinated me. We located a disused track not far from Marfa in West Texas stretching all the way to Presidio on the Mexican border. It ran through private land and in one cattle ranch a modest station had been built to the side of the track for the Oscar winning 2007 movie “There will be blood”. We negotiated terms with the ranch owner and he gave us access to film on a location well known to Daniel Day Lewis.
My preconception was to push modern sensibilities to one side and to play to the stern masculine traditions of Westerns. I wanted a grittiness to the narrative and a simple story of final frontier “badness” at work. The more you complicate Westerns, the less effective they can become. I like to tell stories using archetypal imagery and bring my own vision of Western lore. I think it is always better to exaggerate and amplify - just as Tarantino did so exceptionally well in “Django Unchained”. Why dumb it down?
This was not a simple set up - getting an authentic wagon to this remote location required considerable resourcefulness. The composition and lighting work and the model - Josie Canseco - played her tragic role wonderfully well.
Sometimes an idea just comes off and there is not much I would change in this frame.
~ David Yarrow