Walking Out

When we are very young, our fathers carry us. They put their big hands under our tiny arms and lift us into the sky above their heads and place us on their shoulders. We feel safe, untouchable, above everything else in the world.

When we are older and too big to ride on our fathers’ backs, we carry them. We carry them in our hearts, in our minds, in our personalities. We hear their voices as we do things we’ve seen them do. Sometimes those voices are encouraging; sometimes critical. When we are big but still young, we rebel agains our fathers’ on our backs. When are older, we appreciate his weight, the way it holds to the earth, steadies our steps, guides us safely home.

Walking Out is a movie about sons who carry fathers and the internal strength that weight bears them. It’s also about the Montana wilderness, wild animals, hunting, hunting accidents, and the color blue, as in the color your skin turns as you begin to freeze to death. Yes, Walking Out is a survival story, and a particularly affecting one at that.

The emotional affect comes from the troubled relationship between the father and son who get lost together in the mountains. Their family is spilt. They see each other once a year, if that, and every yearly meeting is like getting to know the other person all over again. They love each other. That love is what brings them together year after year. But they want to respect each other. Each man has to earn the other’s respect.

Walking Out isn’t polished. It’s as rugged as its landscape. The filmmakers shot the film in the real snow and mountains in Montana. These shooting conditions are the kind that Oscar campaigns are built around, but this isn’t award’s bait. It’s an independent film. What these independent filmmakers and their actors managed to accomplish is astounding. The realness and ambition of the film is impressive. Only the dialogue, in moments, denotes the film’s plucky origins. The father is a little too fond of cliches, but then again, he’s the kind of man who probably doesn’t speak to others often. Cliches might be the only words he has.

There are two central symbolic image in this film – killing and carrying. Both are emblematic actions of masculinity. We’ve discussed the carrying already. I’ll leave the killing for you to decode when you see the film. Do see it when you have the chance. I’ll simply say this, Walking Out is undergirded by that “love expressed as respect,” and we don’t see that in movies very often. Most movies feature men. Few are about what it means to be a man. Walking Out is something special.