Tabetha DeGroot —Staff Writer
News of the World, released on Christmas of 2020, offers exciting entertainment while also invoking deep thought and emotion. Based on a novel by Paulette Jiles, directed by Paul Greengrass, and starring Tom Hanks, News of The World is artfully done. This western drama occurs during a time of great tension and strife – something we can sadly relate strongly to right now. It takes place shortly after the Civil War during a time of rebuilding in America, primarily in the south. It is a wild world, filled with rugged and dangerous people.
Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd (played by Tom Hanks) is a former soldier for the Confederacy. He makes a living traveling from town to town and reading newspapers to anyone with ten cents and a few minutes to listen. These classic blue collar towns value sheltered living and hard work, relying on Captain Kidd to bring them news of the world. A series of events causes Kidd to cross paths with a young girl who was taken from her family and raised by Native Americans. He discovers she has been orphaned once again after the war and needs to be taken to her last remaining family. Kidd reluctantly agrees to deliver the girl and sets out on a journey fraught with peril, adventure, and growth.
This film has all the elements of a classic western: shoot-outs, cowboys, Native Americans, and dusty lawless towns. However, it also has a depth and sincerity that sets it apart. It contains themes of honor, kindness, pain, healing, and the power of a great story. One scene that stands out is when Kidd is brought into a town against his will to read a propaganda paper written by the cruel man who owns the buffalo skinning business and, therefore, the town. Instead of bowing to the crooked buffalo barren, Kidd reads the people a story of miners who rise above oppressive circumstances. Chaos ensues, and Kidd’s life is saved by a man who simply states, “I like your stories.”
In another captivating scene, Captain Kidd is reading of the new laws that the northern authorities are putting into place in an aggravated southern town. Some audience members become vocal about their frustrations, resulting in blue-uniformed soldiers in the back gripping their guns as the people become more and more restless. Right when things seem on the verge of getting ugly, Kidd yells, “Alright I hear you!”. “I hear you.” He goes on to calm the crowd as he acknowledges their grievances with the simple but profound statement, “we’re all hurt’n right now.”
News of the World may not be what you would expect to need right now, but it proves to be just that. A look at the post-civil war era gives us a healthy dose of perspective. The people before us have lived through times and circumstances as bad, or even worse, than we ever have. The character of Captain Kidd is an inspiring example of how pain and loss can be turned into hope and healing through an act of kindness. The film illustrates the power of a good story through a strong plot and endearing characters.