the biggest money losing film of all time. Reviled by the New York critics, who, for reasons I'll never quite get hold of, thought it was a critical commentary on the Reagan presidency. Rescued by Philip French, who, rightly, described it for what it is - a Western in the grand tradition of 'Who shot Liberty Vallance'. It's a sprawling epic account of the Johnson Range Wars. When I say sprawling, I mean sprawling. The opening scene is filmed in Oxford, a good part of the speech is in Russian, and there's a whole lot of ice-skating. Circles abound - to say that is to spoil it for those who haven't seen it, but to see it and not be aware would be a greater shame. Westerns are often morality plays, and this is a morality play on a huge scale. There is bloodshed, pain, unsustainable grief and very little happiness. The two most telling scenes are toward the end. In one, a woman, in the moment of victory, puts a gun into her mouth and pulls the trigger. Eisenstein could not have done better. In another, unheralded, unremarked upon scene, the defeated gunmen mow down a group of prostitutes. There's no redemption, only sadness, and, truthfully, that is what so enraged the critics. It ends, as I say, badly. The cavalry arrives to protect the townsfolk from the marauding gunmen. Embarrassingly, the gunmen have already been routed, and it is they that are escorted to safety. Kris Kristoffersen plays himself, Isabelle Huppert is beautiful, Christopher Walken, in his first big role, is both psychopathic and vulnerable, but the prize goes to Beau Bridges, whose gentle face stares out on the misery and blinks. There are scenes that would shock any sensible person, cinematography that has, in my opinion, never been bettered, and bitterness to beat the band.