First Cow

Director in Person
$15 Special Event Tickets
Directed by Kelly Reichardt.
With Alia Shawkat, John Magaro, Rene Auberjonois.
US, 2019, DCP, color, 121 min.

For her latest film, Reichardt collaborated with Jon Raymond on their most ambitious project to date, adapting Raymond’s first novel, The Half-Life, a bifurcated epic intertwining the stories of an atavistic Eighties Oregon hippie colony with the frontier town that long ago occupied the same site. Now set almost entirely within the historic past of 1820s Oregon, First Cow explores a touching and politically astute vision of early America seen from the other side: the West Coast as inhabited by immigrants from around the world intermingled with already endangered indigenous people and aimless drifters, all determined to lay their claim on the uncharted land. In First Cow, the important role of animals in Reichardt’s cinema finds its fullest expression as the eponymous cow and forest fauna together bear unspeaking witness to the human folly unfolding before them as two dreamers hatch an unlikely and ultimately doomed scheme to make quick money. Looking back at the earliest stages of entrepreneurial capitalism, First Cow offers a wistful but profound questioning of America as an ideal by gently casting doubt on the myth that innocence and profit can coexist. – HG

First Cow introduction and post-screening discussion with Haden Guest and Kelly Reichardt. ©Harvard Film Archive

Part of film series

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Traveling Light
The Films of Kelly Reichardt

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Jean-Pierre Bekolo, 2024 McMillan-Stewart Fellow

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