Stories involving journeys through mysterious, and potentially hostile, natural environments are as old as… well, stories themselves. This year’s Sundance Film Festival features two such narratives in the Spotlight category: Christopher Munch’s LETTERS FROM THE BIG MAN, and Kelly Reichardt’s MEEK’S CUTOFF. Though quite different in terms of historical setting, each bases its narrative on a trip into the wilderness… and the struggles and discoveries (both internal and external) inevitably accompany such undertakings.
More than a decade before women had the right to vote in this country, Alice Ramsey became the first one to drive across it. The car was a 1909 Maxwell Model DA, given to her by Maxwell as a kind of advertising stunt with the idea that women would like the DA when they saw a woman driving it and encourage their husbands to buy one. It’s easy to misconstrue her journey as a statement about women’s rights, but Ramsey, 22 at the time and fresh out of Vassar, wasn’t exactly a suffragette. In fact she only accepted the challenge because it had already been done by a man.