Alex Cox is the insane (in a good way) auteur who brought cult movie aficionados such gems as Repo Man, Sid & Nancy, and Revenger’s Tragedy, among many others. Now, he ushers in a decidedly different sort of Western with Tombstone-Rashomon, which is exactly what it sounds like. A re-telling of the famous gunfight at the O.K. Corral by way of interviewing survivors, witnesses, and people close to everyone involved.
The gimmick Cox concocts to get these interviews is to have a film crew time-travel to October 27, 1881, one day after the shootout. The unseen, though occasionally heard, crew interview Wyatt Earp (Adam Newberry), Ike Clayton (Benny Lee Kennedy), Doc Holliday (Eric Schumacher), Sheriff Johnny Behan (Jesse Lee Pacheco), Colonel Hafford (Richard Anderson), and Holliday’s significant other, Kate (Christine Doidge). Intertwined with their statements is narrative footage of the events all leading up to the shoot out.
“A re-telling of the famous gunfight at the O.K. Corral by way of interviewing survivors, witnesses, and people close to everyone involved.”
John Sturges’s fondly recalled, slightly flawed Gunfight at the O.K. Corral sports a magnificently exciting ending gunfight, as it should, given its name. The 1993 Western Tombstone is sheer perfection. Plus, the story has been told in several ways over the years. So, what could another version of this story bring to the table? You forget dear reader that this is an Alex Cox picture. While not every movie Cox has made has been a winner – does anyone even remember Repo Chicks? – there is no denying his energy, enthusiasm, and love of all things related to cinema. As well as his devotion to bringing somewhat eccentric stories to life in a creative, kinetic way.
That love shines brightly throughout the entirety of Tombstone-Rashomon. Its title is referencing one of the most influential Japanese films of all time. And yes, events are recreated from different vantage points a la the older Kurosawa classic. Things said by this-or-that person takes on new meaning or are different altogether. The screenplay is filled with delightful little touches, such as Kate calling everyone a “her,” “she,” and so on, no matter their gender. It is pretty funny. But, the seriousness of the subject at hand and the needless death and suffering from those involved is dealt with delicately and maturely.
"…proves that Cox’s style does not sacrifice humanity and emotion in favor of experimental ideas just for their own sake."