Neo-Western with Harrison Ford and Helen Mirren : Next “Yellowstone” offshoot at Paramount+

When acting legends like Harrison Ford and Helen Mirren star in a TV series like the neo-western “1923” as ranch landowners Jacob and Cara Dutton, and then ex-James Bond Timothy Dalton and the likeable “Game of Thrones” anti-hero Jerome Flynn wanting to take over their land and livestock could mean many things.

In the case of the “Yellowstone” spin-off by showrunner Taylor Sheridan, however, this is certainly not intended to cover up any weaknesses in terms of content. On the contrary: the streaming service Paramount+, where “1923” with its eight episodes on Saturday with a double episode starts, can be so sure of himself that a sequel has already been confirmed. Although Sheridan actually wanted to do without sequels, as with the “Yellowstone” release “1883”. In any case, the result proves Paramount’s decision right: Sheridan has once again succeeded in creating a gripping drama series with captivating characters in front of impressive backdrops.

I’ve lived here since 1894. I can’t remember an easy year.

Ranch owner Jacob Dutton (Harrison Ford) to the other rancher barons in Montana.

As the title suggests, “1923” takes place between the end of World War I and the Depression, which began in Montana a few years earlier with extreme drought and simultaneous locust plagues. While progress with electric washing machines and the first lady shavers also arrived in the cities of the West, the cattle barons had to defend their property with all means against the land claims of the sheep breeders, who only immigrated later.

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The Great War in Europe, as it was then called, was followed by the Ranch War in Montana. And Jacob and Cara Dutton hope for the support of their nephew Spencer (Brandon Sklenar), who, however, is still suppressing his war trauma by hunting man-eating lions and leopards in Africa. He meets the self-confident Englishwoman Alexandra (Julia Schlaepfer), who heals his mental wounds.

The brutal re-education of the indigenous population

As in “Yellowstone” and “1883”, another story line deals with the fate of the indigenous population in the USA. The orphaned girl Teonna Rainwater (Aminah Nieves) is to be prepared for life as a Christian wife in a boarding school run by nuns. In practice, however, this amounts to brutal re-education with caning and solitary confinement. Fortunately, strong women are not only found in the Dutton family.

By dealing with the way the white settlers dealt with the descendants of the natives, Sheridan at least sets a small counterpoint to the otherwise often predominant tone of the structurally conservative narrative. The criticism of the policy of re-education contrasts with the impressive landscape pictures, which once again evoke the feeling of boundless freedom. But that doesn’t change the basic tone. With their rebellion against modernity, Jacob and Cara Dutton repeatedly ask the question in “1923” whether the world of the old Wild West was not better in some respects?

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