|The $40 million film, starring Christian Bale, is shooting in Valley for just a few days
The film genre is commonly known as a Western, but for the big Hollywood movie starring Christian Bale that wrapped up shooting today in Westcliffe, it is being described as a personal and relevant “Frontier Epic” set in 1892. It is a story that focuses on individual characters and their all-too human emotions as they are forced to confront the fate of unfavorable circumstances and inner turmoil against the backdrop of the jagged-lonesome beauty of the Rocky Mountains.
And it is that jagged beauty of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains that brought most Custer County citizens to reside in our beautiful Valley. But just like the characters in the movie, it was the actions of an individual local that helped bring the film crew to Westcliffe for a few days that will set the stage for the frontier epic movie “Hostiles.”
Local film commissioner Marilyn Hennessy moved from Denver a few years back to enjoy mountain living and offered her services to the Custer County Economic Development Committee as film commissioner. “I had worked with the Colorado Film Commission in Denver for several years, so I offered my services to help as a local film commissioner,” commented Hennessy. “And like so many events in Westcliffe, I discovered that I had been awarded the job by reading about my new commission in the Tribune,” she laughed.
The goal of the volunteer position is to work with the State film commission on finding local resources when film crews are in the State. “About a month ago I was contacted by site director Kathy McCurdy and they needed a scene for a segment of the film in Colorado.” So with the help of a few locals, she searched Custer County and sent pictures of various locations to the movie site director. “The film crew found exactly what they were looking for, and I have been driving them around for the past three weeks.”
The hard work paid off as film crews started to show up Monday and set up a camp at the Saddle Club Rodeo Grounds north of town. The Rodeo grounds served as a place to take care of the large group of horses that are used in the film. In addition to the Saddle Club, many vacation homes in the area, and a few rooms at hotels, were booked for the crews.
“Each actor uses the same horse everyday, and all of the actors are good riders, spending a lot of time in the saddle,” commented Peter J. Silbermann, the production publicist for the movie. “Of course most of the actors did not start out as great riders, they attended a two-week riding school,” he continued. “We have a full-time group of seven wranglers that care for the horses for the past 58 days of filming, and they have done some amazing work.”
Set in 1892, “Hostiles” tells the story of a legendary Army Captain Joseph J. Blocker, Christian Bale, who after stern resistance, begrudgingly agrees to escort a dying Cheyenne war chief, Chief Yellow Hawk, Wes Studi, and his family back to tribal lands. Making the harrowing and perilous journey from an isolated Army outpost in New Mexico to the grasslands of Montana, the former rivals encounter a young a widow, Rosalee Quaid, played by Rosamund Pike, whose family was murdered on the plains. Together, they must join forces to overcome the punishing landscape and hostile Comanche tribes that they encounter along the way.
“This movie is different from the western in that it is not a shoot-them-up style movie. It is a story about people from different mindsets having to work together, a moral that is extremely relevant to modern times,” Silbermann says.
It is the traveling north towards Montana that prompted the film crew to find a site in Colorado. “We shot nearly all of the movie in New Mexico, traveling across a lot of the state. However, we needed a site in Colorado for the Colorado traveling scenes as the characters moved north,” concluded Silbermann.
The movie is directed by Scott Cooper and produced by John Lesher. Waypoint Entertainment is financing the $40 million film, and the movie is tentatively scheduled for release in 2017. Thursday marked the last day of filming for the crews, and what better place to end a big project than the scenic beauty of the Wet Mountain Valley?