The Big Picture
- Butcher’s Crossing is a tense Western thriller featuring Nicolas Cage and Fred Hechinger, based on John Edward Williams’s novel.
- The film follows a young Harvard drop-out who joins a buffalo hunting team led by Cage’s character, unaware of the risks involved.
- The movie aims to highlight the cruelty of hunting and the Native Americans’ role in preserving the buffalo population.
To celebrate Indigenous People’s Day, Collider is excited to share an exclusive clip from the tense Western thriller Butcher’s Crossing featuring Academy Award winner Nicolas Cage and The White Lotus star Fred Hechinger. Based on John Edward Williams‘s novel, the film tells the harrowing tale of a young Harvard drop-out who seeks a greater purpose as part of a buffalo hunting team led by Cage’s Miller. He and Hechinger hash out the details of what promises to be the hunt of a lifetime in the clip, unaware of how their lives and sanity will be at risk during their expedition. The mythical herd of buffalo they hunt was only made possible by the Blackfeet Tribe who graciously loaned their herd to the production.
Miller lights up his pipe to open the clip and asks Will (Hechinger) if he’s trustworthy enough to hear what he has to say. When he’s assured, he details his journey into a valley where the buffalo roamed by the thousands with better hides than any around. Getting a party to return there is a challenge, however. The area is treacherous for any man to venture into and for Miller to even get the right kind of group together, he’d need some serious cash to finance it all. Will sees this as an opportunity for self-discovery and offers his remaining money to get things moving on what Miller warns him will be no ordinary hunt. As the trailer shows, Miller is exactly right as their hunt for the buffalo hide haul of a lifetime devolves into obsession and slaughter for the sake of slaughter.
Butcher’s Crossing is the latest twist in Cage’s winding career, though it’s his second tour into the Western genre this year following The Old Way in which he played a retired gunslinger seeking revenge against his wife’s killers. This film is more of a “person vs. nature” affair, however, opting instead to pit Cage, Hechinger, and the rest of the team against the elements and their own minds. It’s also meant to highlight the cruelty of hunting and the craze that nearly drove the animals to extinction. It was only with the help of the Native Americans that the animals are still alive to this day as they showed respect to the creatures, something Miller and his hunting party completely forego.
‘Butcher’s Crossing’ Was a Grueling Filming Experience
Just as the hunt within the film was difficult, filming was brutal as the team revealed in an interview with Collider’s Steve Weintraub at last year’s Toronto International Film Festival. Director Gabe Polsky shot Butcher’s Crossing in only 19 days, making for a grueling process that he called “the hardest thing I’ve ever done.” Polsky has mostly shot documentaries, though his resume includes The Motel Life with Emile Hirsch, Stephen Dorff, and Dakota Fanning which he filmed with his brother Alan Polskly. He gets the chance to capture the majesty and danger of the American frontier here though with his first narrative feature since the 2012 drama.
In addition to Cage and Hechinger, Butcher’s Crossing also stars Rachel Keller, Paul Raci, Xander Berkeley, and Jeremy Bobb. The film premieres in theaters on October 20. Check out the exclusive clip below.