Threatened by a severe drought on the parched 1949 Utah-Arizona border, two intrepid friends - one Navajo, one the son of a white trader - set off to find a hidden pastureland offering abundant water somewhere beyond the red cliffs.
A severe drought threatens Navajo herdsmen living on the parched 1949 Utah-Arizona border. But two intrepid friends - one Navajo, one the son of a white trader - hear of hidden pastureland offering abundant water somewhere beyond the red cliffs. So they set off to find it in an adventure that will demand plenty of trail smarts from the two young heroes, all the while bringing them and viewers to a fuller understanding of mystical Navajo links to the natural world. The film's eye-dazzling vistas match the adventure. Settings for this narrated, 52-minute Technicolor movie include the spectacular spires and canyons of what Western fans know as John Ford Country: Monument Valley, lensed in nine Ford films.
Though running 52 minutes, which under any other circumstance would qualify it as a feature, TALE OF THE NAVAJOS was designated a short subject when picked up for distribution by MGM. Lensed in Technicolor, this documentary details the history of the Navajo Indians, concluding with the tribe's contemporary activities. Well-composed shots of Navajo men, women and children going about their daily tasks are complemented with a portentous narration, making constant allusions to Indian traditions, religious beliefs and mythology. Also included are snippets of Native American poetry, rendered in dramatic fashion by narrator Edward Jerome. Hardly an in-depth treatment of its subject, TALE OF THE NAVAJOS works better as travelogue than as a sociological document.
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