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Christian Bale made a Western prior to his new film “Hostiles.” That was the 2007 remake of “3:10 to Yuma,” and he has ridden horses in a number of films. He’s been riding, in fact, since age 11, when a neighbor in Portugal let him take her steeds down to the beach. “So I’m very comfortable on horses, although my technique might be questionable,” says the 43-year-old English actor with a grin. What Bale liked about “Hostiles,” which opens in the Bay Area Jan. 5, was that there’s no comfort to it. Set in 1892, the film — scripted and directed by Scott Cooper, who previously put Bale through numerous rigors in the 2013 rural crime drama “Out of the Furnace” — digs deep into the emotional as well as physical damage wrought by the winning of the just-about-closed frontier.
Bale plays a veteran Indian fighter, Cavalry pink ballet shoes Captain Joseph Blocker, who has been given the most distasteful assignment of his career, He’s ordered to escort a dying Cheyenne war chief, Yellow Hawk (Wes Studi of “Dances with Wolves” and “Last of the Mohicans”), and his family from a New Mexico military prison to his homeland in Montana, It’s a politically driven ploy, Now that Washington has won the West, it wants to appear to be a compassionate conqueror, but Blocker has lost too many comrades to stomach that, Still, orders are orders, and along the 1,000-mile trail north he must learn to respect his charges if any of them are to survive..
Despite what they might think in the capital, law and order hasn’t entirely been imposed here. Comanche renegades, rapist trappers and more racist members of Blocker’s own army are still running wild. “It’s this journey of a man who’s trying to unlearn hatred,” says Bale, who’s almost unrecognizable with a shaved head and 40 extra pounds he put on to play ex-vice president Dick Cheney in Adam McKay’s just-completed biopic “Backseat.” “He’s trying to unlearn a natural response to fight at all times, and trying to become human again.
“I don’t believe he’s a natural bigot at all,” Bale says of Blocker, “The way I attempted to portray him is that he has had to create that bigotry, He knows that ‘Manifest pink ballet shoes Destiny’ really means ‘land grab.’ He’s a smart man, but he’s a leader, and he cannot express himself for fear that everything will fall apart.”, Bale says Blocker’s suppressed emotions get expressed through other characters, especially the widowed settler Rosalie Quaid (Rosamund Pike), whom his company rescues along the way, Her grief over unimaginably traumatic loss is bone-shaking..
“He knows that he’s been enacting genocide,” Bale points out, “but that doesn’t nullify the pain he feels. What it causes is incredible guilt at even the very (slimmest thought) that he could give up the hatred. It’s the guilt of, will that render his brothers-in-arms’ deaths meaningless?”. Bale is well known for deep commitment to his roles. Like the recent Cheney weight gain, he also packed on pounds for “American Hustle” but went in the other direction to play a gaunt insomniac in “The Machinist” and his Oscar-winning turn as a crack-addicted ex-boxer in “The Fighter.”.
For “Hostiles,” Bale studied the Cheyenne language under consultant Chief Phillip Whiteman, There was much more to it than that, however, The actor explains, “The Northern Cheyenne leader who became our adviser and taught me the language wouldn’t teach me any of it until he taught me the culture first, It really helped to add so much substance to the story and to Blocker.”, Shot in remote parts of Colorado pink ballet shoes and New Mexico, “Hostiles” was a trying experience, the kind Bale — who first came to international attention when he starred, at 13, as a World War II prison-camp internee in Steven Spielberg’s “Empire of the Sun” — typically thrives on..
He says, “We shot (‘Hostiles’) chronologically, so you can actually see us getting skinnier because we were in these woolen uniforms and sweating like crazy in the summer heat. But Scott was always very adamant that we understand the pace of life at that time and the lack of self-awareness at that time — and that violence, when it does come, it comes suddenly. It comes out of nowhere. It’s intensely savage and brutal — no glorification, no swashbuckling nature. And then it’s gone, and silence — you’re left with just the tragedy of what’s occurred. I think that makes the violence in ‘Hostiles’ seem so much more terrible than what you’ve witnessed in other Westerns.”.
All that’s behind Bale now, But when he watches “Hostiles,” he sees more than just a Western, He sees a film that most uncomfortably reflects horrors still loose in the world today, “The film became something that was not only fascinating and obsessing to me, but it becomes tragically relevant more and more every day,” Bale says, “… in terms of divisiveness, hatred, pink ballet shoes seeing the refugee crisis and people’s attitudes towards that, in seeing the treatment of women, We’re at a cultural, global shifting point..