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Favorite Movie Moment: Open Range

One of my favorite moments in film is a final scene in Open Range, a Western focusing on a small group of free-grazers led by Boss Spearman (an excellent Robert Duval once again in his element) and Charley Waite (Kevin Costner, also the director) who are reluctantly drawn into a battle against a ruthless cattle rancher.

A favorite moment of mine (there are several in this film) takes place after the final gun battle (one of the best choreographed in a Western). While the town’s been freed from an unjust tyranny, a wounded Charley (both in body and soul) is overcome by the violence and death the fight wrought and retreats to the town’s saloon, demanding everyone leave. Then he asks to see Sue (Annette Bening), the sister of the town’s doctor. Though the scene takes place in the context of the love between a man and woman, it resonates with me on another level: how our sense of guilt or shame about past deeds or decisions can blind us to or keep us from embracing the forgiveness, Love and spilling-over Life that God has to offer.

Sue enters the saloon and approaches Charlie, lying on the bar. He looks up.

Charley: I didn't mean for you to have to . . . walk into this place in front of those people.

Sue: I don't care what anyone out there thinks, Charley.

Charley moves painfully.

Sue: You don't have to stand up for me.

Charley (sitting up): Well, just the same, I wanted to tell you that I'll be leaving in a day or two.

Sue: I'd like you to stay. I think others would, too.

Charley: I can't say I haven't thought about it. Truth is, there wouldn't be a corner here that don't have a bad memory for me.

Sue: I've been holding my love a long time, Charley. I know you feel something for me, too.

Charley: I do. But I ain't no more than those who come to kill us. You seen that yourself.

Sue: Maybe you've done some bad things. Maybe worse than bad. But what happened here today wasn't one of 'em.

Charley: And those killings, they don't give you pause?

Sue: I'm not afraid of you, Charley.

Charley pulls Sue’s locket from his pocket and holds it out to her—

Charley: It brought me luck. Just like you said.

Sue looks at it, but doesn’t move.

Sue: It's yours now. You keep it.

Sue pauses and looks at Charley with restrained emotion—

Sue: I don't have the answers, Charley. But I know that people get confused in this life about what they want and what they've done and what they think they should have because of it. Everything they think they are or did takes hold so hard that it won't let them see what they can be.

I've got a big idea about us, Charley. And I'm not gonna wait forever. But I am gonna wait. And when you're far away, I want you to think about that. And ... come back to me.
(Image: copyrighted by Touchstone; text from Script-O-Rama)