Every time I practically forget that the Western still exists, something new comes along and confirms what a tough genre it is. The British Hugo Blick, an experienced actor, screenwriter and director, brought his vision of the American wild west in this six-part mini-series, who takes us deep into the interior of the United States of America in the 19th century, somewhat in a Leone – Tarantino style. The year is 1890 and the British aristocrat Lady Cornelia Locke (Emily Blunt) heads through New Orleans and Kansas to Wyoming and Nebraska to find the man who killed her son. Cornelia set out on a revenge mission practically not knowing what awaited her in that still quite desolate, dangerous and unexplored territory.
“The English” is one of those stylized, almost film series, and Blick makes great use of those vast expanses and photography is one of its strong trump cards, just as it should be in a western. Right on the trail of the legendary spaghetti westerns that Sergio Leone used to film, we get to know that country that grew on blood, violence, unimaginable brutality, and while Blick’s visual role model is the Italian master, in terms of the eccentricity of the characters and also the revisionism and dialogues, he looked up to Tarantino and his “Djang” and “The Hateful Eight”. As soon as she steps into the wild west, Cornelia, who went there with a bag full of money, will immediately understand what kind of people she has to deal with there.
Admittedly, she knew that well because the genesis and reason for her coming to America dates back to 12 years ago when her fiance went there and she never saw or heard from him again. In flashbacks, we occasionally follow those events from 1878, when various adventurers, colonizers, mostly the most ruthless and ruthless, headed to those wastelands, which are still mostly ruled by Indians. Luckily for Cornelia, her path will cross with Eli Whipp (Chaske Spencer), a Pawnee Indian who has been a scout for the US Cavalry for years, and he is now headed to Nebraska to get a piece of land for serving in the army despite everyone convincing him that this privilege is reserved only for white veterans. Along the way, it will turn out that Cornelia and Eli have a shared history, and the masterful Blick builds the story there.
And of course we will find out many secrets until the end, and the story is not only finely woven, but during Cornelia’s and Eli’s journey deeper and deeper into the interior, they constantly have the misfortune, rather than the good fortune, of bumping into various eccentric and unusual types. And although the action takes place there at the very end of the 19th century, when most of the USA became civilized, in those desolate and wild parts it did not deviate much from what we could read, for example, in “Blood Meridian” by Cormac McCarthy, whose plot is takes place forty years earlier on the border of today’s USA and Mexico.
There are equally bloodthirsty and cruel people, and this series is another in a series of great reminders of who it was who built the greatest modern empire. Just like in any honest western, we follow this story of greed, avarice, betrayal, revenge, genocide of the native population, all of which is told not only from the perspective of an outsider, but that outsider is a woman. And once again Blunt is great, whose Cornelia may at first seem fragile and as if she is completely lost in the wild west, but very soon it will become clear to us that this determined woman is well aware of where she is headed. Eli, on the other hand, is her exact opposite, a seemingly calm, composed, wise guy who has been through everything and anything and experienced all the worst that the wild west has to offer, and “The English” was definitely content that all fans of the genre will definitely not miss.