Filmgrenser: Lone Star
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Lone Star (1996) is the most successful of all of Sayles’ more than two dozen films, and is one of the several of his works that he himself has also written the script for. It is of and about the specific Texas – Mexican borderland, but raises questions about the troublesome nature of any border, any line drawn to distinguish inside from outside – here from there. The relation between the Border Aesthetics project’s general emphases and Lone Star is perhaps best brought out in the opening lines on the project website: “Border aesthetics examines the role of art and culture in constructing and tracing borders.” Lone Star does both: it traces, and in the process also constructs, de-constructs, and re-constructs borders.
Lone Star recounts how Sam Deeds, after years away, returns to his hometown Frontera to succeed his father, the legendary Buddy Deeds, as town Sheriff. The film opens with two men from the nearby military post, who on a day off on an abandoned shooting range find a skeleton. This leads to a murder investigation that is at the same time an examination of the past which unravels the multiple, intertwined narratives of and between individuals, ethnic groups, countries, and, finally, memories of history. Sam Deeds’ story forms the locus around which a number of other narratives gravitate, but the several other protagonists are all given their own voice to tell their particular route into Frontera’s diverse gestalt.
One character pinpoints the central concern of the film as follows: “Bird flying south - you think he sees that line? Rattlesnake, javelin -- whatever you got -- halfway across that line they don't start thinking different. So why should a man?” Sayles plays with the multiple understandings of the “line” and “thinking differently,” letting the film’s pace and movement generate a surprising presentation of borders, borderlands, and their various crossings. In my introduction to the film I will mostly concentrate on the very first scene, which exemplifies with great depth and accuracy the intricate web of histories that meet already in this one, single moment on the shooting range.