In the 1958 movie, The Big Country there is a wonderful fight scene between the characters played by Gregory Peck and Charlton Heston. The drama is set up early in the film as a tension is made evident between the ranch foreman (Heston), and the eastern ship’s captain turned westerner (Peck). After considerable escalation of these tensions the Peck character agrees to fight the tough cowboy ranch foreman. But he only agrees to do so on the condition that no one else knows or observes their fight. Here is where it gets cinematically and metaphorically interesting. As they walk out on the vast prairie for the fisticuffs the camera slowly backs away, exposing the enormous landscape that surrounds these two little men with their little grievance pounding each other’s bodies into exhaustion. The symbolism is easy to read.
While I traversed some of the great landscapes of the west this summer I often thought of that scene. The vistas go on seemingly forever out there. This picture from the Acoma reservation in New Mexico captures some of my feeling about this disparity between the smallness of people and the greatness of the land. Can you see the two couples in this scene? As the Psalmist says, “What is Man that you are mindful of him?”