Miracle at Sage Creek
What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this spiritually-oriented drama set at Christmastime includes some standard Western-style violence. There are rifle battles on horseback, one of the boys gets his hand caught in an animal trap, and later, this same boy narrowly avoids being attacked by a snarling coyote. The movie's antagonist, bitter and mourning the murder of his wife by Native Americans, is prejudiced against Native Americans -- even calling the friend of his grandson a "half-breed" -- but through the miracle mentioned in the title, he learns to overcome his hatred and move on from her death. Overall, the film teaches positive lessons about respect for all cultures, the value of friendship, and the importance of family.
What's the story?
This 2005 Christmas-themed Western follows the friendships and rivalries between two families, the Franklins and Red Eagles, in 1888 Wyoming. Scroogey Grandfather Ike Franklin (David Carradine), bitter at the death of his wife 10 years ago at the hands of Native Americans, plots a scheme to legally remove Chief Thomas Red Eagle (Wes Studi) from the home he shares with his daughter Sunny (Irene Bedard), son-in-law John Stockton (Tim Abell), and grandson Samuel. As this is happening, John goes missing, and Ike’s grandson Kit becomes ill with fever. To avert tragedy, Ike must learn to overcome his prejudice towards Native Americans, as the two families hope that the prayer that sustains them will provide the Christmas miracles they need.
Is it any good?
If you're willing to overlook its shortcomings, Miracle at Sage Creek is a simple tale of love, redemption, and yes, miracles, during Christmastime in the Wild West. If the title itself isn't a dead giveaway, anyone with even a passing familiarity with both Westerns and Christmas movies should be able to predict how the last 30 minutes of the movie will go down. It certainly isn't a masterpiece of either genre, but in spite of the trite story line, Miracle at least deserves praise for attempting to push beyond the stereotypes of Native Americans, pioneers, and how the two relate to each other as so often portrayed in traditional Westerns. Native American traditions are given a great deal of respect, themes of family and friendship abound, and the curmudgeonly bitterness and intolerance of Ike Franklin is overcome in both the storyline and the positive examples set by the other characters -- the boys Zachary Keller and Samuel Red Eagle in particular.
And yet, the only death in the film, the shooting of an African-American stagecoach driver, is a murder no one seems terribly interested in avenging. Plot holes like these make it a bit more difficult to feel good about this "feel good" movie.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about how life was different for kids and adults in frontier times compared to today. Did you learn anything new from this movie? Are movies always the best way to learn about history?
What were some of the things that the Native Americans did differently than the pioneers? How do they resolve their differences in the movie? Does this movie challenge or reinforce any stereotypes? What are some of the challenges involved in relating to people who are different than you?