Some people hear their own inner voices
with great clearness
and they live by what they hear
Such people become crazy
or they become legend
Tristan Ludlow was born in the Moon of the Falling Leaves
It was a terrible winter
His mother almost died bringing him into this world
His father, the Colonel, brought him to me
I wrapped him in a bearskin and held him all that night
As he grew into a man
I taught him the great joy of the kill
when the hunter cuts out its warm heart
and holds it in his hands
setting its spirit free
Colonel Ludlow had three sons
but Tristan was his favorite
But they were gone now
It was a very bad time
The Colonel had tried to help the People
So he decided to go his own way
He wanted to lose the madness over the mountains, he said
"Lose the madness, '"he said
And so we lived for many years
and the boys grew strong
Alfred was the older brother
old even for his years
Samuel was the youngest
There was nothing these brothers would not do for him
They watched over him like a treasure
One year... I am an old man
and cannot remember the year
But it was the Moon of the Red Grass
when Isabel Ludlow, their mother
went away for the winter
She said the winters were too cruel for her
She said she was afraid of the bears
She was a strange woman anyway
That spring, though, she did not return
And, after that, she did not come much to see us
Alfred wrote her many letters
but Tristan refused to speak of her
His world was here
Every warrior hopes a good death will find him
but Tristan couldn't wait
He went looking for his
Was it a bear? - Yes, sir
Was it a bear? - Yes, sir
- Can you breathe? - Yes
You're a stupid, half-brained jackass
- One Stab put you up to this?
You deserve to be dead
God knows how you've lived so long
It'll be all right, son
I have these letters
They are from all of them
It is all written here
April 13, 1913
I am not fool enough to try to reorder a life already lived
but I fear I have not done well raising
our sons alone in this wild place
What did I know of children?
I was trained to lead men
This is infinitely harder
You take too much responsibility on yourself, as always
Our sons are finding their own paths
They are willful, certainly,
who are you and I to complain of willfulness?
As for Samuel, I have big news
At a Harvard tea for Amy Lowell
he met and instantly loved Miss Susannah Finncannon
I know it will surprise you greatly
but they are engaged
He will bring her to Montana this summer to meet his brothers
So, William, please behave yourself
and be as charming as only you can be
- How the hell are you?
- Samuel Good to see you, boy - Father, how are you?
- Good to see you - Hello
This is my fianc, Susannah
- Nice to meet you - It's an honor
- Here's your dog, miss - Thank you
- That's a strange-looking animal
This is Finn He's a champion
You like exotic-looking dogs then, Miss Finncannon?
Very much, Mr. Ludlow
- Please call me Susannah
- He's just plain old Alfred
- He's off somewhere You know him
He'll welcome you home tonight
or I'll know the reason why
Miss Finncannon, please
Did you have a good journey?
She is such a lovely creature
But I fear the loss of her parents
has given her a certain fragility
I think she feels very alone in the world
But she has found a new family now, hasn't she?
The German military is ready to use chaos in Croatia
as a justification for actions that could plunge the entire civilized world into...
The word "civilized" has no place
in discussing the affairs of this world
Mother told us of your sympathy for the social reformers
You make it sound like a disease
No, I'm in agreement
You mother told me all about One Stab
She says he was a great warrior
He has a bag of scalps to prove it
He's devoted to Father now
Rather, they're devoted to each other
Can he speak English?
Stab, speak English?
He wouldn't lower himself to speak English
But watch out because he understands it perfectly well
- Don't they feed you?
- You smell - Miss me, did you?
- Still hung over? - Still drunk
So this is Tristan
And does he speak English?
Miss Finncannon, it's a pleasure to meet you
I hope you and Ugly here
find every happiness together
Don't mind my brother Your dog
has more breeding than he has
This is Mother's room
- It's a pleasure to meet you, Pet - And you, miss
- Which one?
You must be Isabel Two
I've already met your mother and father
- How old are you? - Thirteen
When I was 13, I was sent away to boarding school
You're going to marry Samuel
I'm going to marry Tristan
I see you two have met
Isabel Two is letting me help
Would you like a rest? You must be exhausted
No, not at all This is so refreshing
all this grandeur, this unexpected
It doesn't seem like much of a gift in a hard winter, I assure you
Inside I could tell your father wanted him all to himself
- You're very generous
Stop mooning over her and come in here
Samuel wants to know
about those calves from Cheyenne
Please excuse my father
It makes him feel young and powerful to treat us like we're idiot children
For all His countless blessings,
may God's holy name be praised Amen
Tell Father what you were saying about Vienna
He won't stop them from annihilating Serbia
Let's not talk about war, please
Susannah hears that England's mobilizing
We're stuck out here while all this is going on
- You wouldn't want us to evade a duty
- Father, with respect...
Please excuse me for being late
I packed so carefully,
I couldn't find anything
Would you like some...
As evening fell a maiden stood
At the edge of a wood
In her hands lay the reins Of a stallion
And n'er I'd seen A girl as fair
Heard a gentler voice anywhere
Whispered, alas She belonged
Belonged to another
Yes, she belonged to
The twilight and mist
How strange to have a cultivated woman
and how intoxicating
To have all three of my sons under my roof again
fills me with such a deep, quiet satisfaction
There's a friend of yours
A dollar says he brings her back
You guys look like ice cream cones
I know you would have
Go easy on him, Susannah
Alfred, you take over
I must talk to Tristan
You've disgraced the Colonel's name
- I hit her back
She's got me spinning
She's got me spinning
She's got these ideas and theories, and she's so...
How'd you break the mare?
She's sort of passionate
- She a virgin? - Good Lord, Tristan
- You brought it up - Of course she is
- Yes, I am - Going to wait till you're married?
Susannah thinks that...
We're not gonna wait
And you're afraid you won't meet her expectations?
Sort of I don't know
Samuel, God bless you
You are good at everything you try
I'm sure it will be the same with fucking
- She's my future wife
- You're not going to fuck her?
I'm planning to be with her
I recommend fucking
- You're impossible - You brought it up
Good morning, Colonel Ludlow
Tristan's hunting He didn't do it
You don't have to worry about Tristan
Meet John T and James O'Banion They own the mercantile store
- Morning, James, John T, Sheriff
We're looking for a man we heard might be in this part of the country
What did this fella do?
Do you recognize him?
- Yeah, I recognize him
This fellow passed by here maybe four or five years ago
on his way to San Francisco
He was hoping to book passage
Or Hong Kong I can't remember
- Can you remember?
- What is he wanted for?
That would be of a private nature
It's a public office you hold, Sheriff
"There came a low hiss, a horrid sound
that made Rikki Tikki Tavi jump back two clear feet
And then out of the grass
rose up the head and spread hood of Nag
the big black cobra"
I can read another story
The Germans broke through at Armentieres
The British are trapped in the Belgian lowlands
- This paper is a week old!
With my fluent German, I could become an officer
And lead other boys to the slaughter and be slaughtered yourself
The men who served under you worshipped you
They were all damn fools
This is a turning point in history
- How can we... - What?
You can't expect us not to be part of this
- You taught us... - To think for yourselves
- And to defend what's ours
- Yes, what is ours!
We've already lost two cousins
Who we've never met! Don't talk at me as though I've never seen a war!
Not a war like this
They said that about the War of Secession and the Indian wars
They say it to sell newspapers
These are not the Indian wars
We're fighting against naked aggression!
There will be no more talk of wars in this house! Damn it!
I'm sorry, Susannah
I'm going to Canada to enlist
I meant to speak to you tonight
I know you'll understand It's the only honorable thing to do
It's a book my father wrote
to try to convince the government to alter their policies
towards the Indians in the Dakotas
Samuel won't change his mind
What happened between them?
Father says she never liked it here
I think they loved mostly the idea of each other
I'll take care of him
October 14, 1914
Today our sons are leaving home
to defend an England they have never seen
I am unable to stop them
I have tried to shelter our sons from all the madness
and now they go to seek it
You don't have to go
Don't worry, Father
I'll bring you the Kaiser's helmet
Bring yourself back That would please me more
- Take care of Samuel
Colonel Ludlow told me:
"Ride with them to Calgary
Bring back the horses '"
"Damn fools, '"he called them
would not have his sons ride off to war on old nags
May we join you?
Feeling lonely in there
What's her name, Two?
In the story, Tristan's lady was Isolde
- Do you know who Isolde was? - No
Your daughter needs an education
She can read and write, Colonel
School might be awkward for her
- I'll teach her myself
Yeah I'll teach her history and mathematics
With your permission, Decker,
What do you think?
What will she do with all this education?
She'll live a richer, fuller life, of course
Not in this house
- Tristan calls me a half-breed
- Tristan calls you a half-breed?
He says I'm half gopher and half hawk
- After her chores - Yeah
Get back to your unit
Those boys are boring I'd rather have you watching my back
February 3, 1915
The horror of this place is indescribable
Nothing is as I thought it would be
Keep your distance! Keep your spacing!
Tonight, as I prayed for the souls of those who've died so terribly yet so bravely
I admit that I also prayed for personal glory
Is that wrong to want to distinguish myself gloriously
in combat as my father did?
Tristan and Alfred watch over me so carefully
I may never get the opportunity
Alfred! Are you all right?
- Are you hit? - It's just a scratch
I see now not that my father was right,
but that I was naive
- Let me up, damn it! - Stay down!
Still, we place our bodies in God's keeping
We go into battle honorably
with His name on our lips
- We're pinned here - We'll wait
- Give him a hand - Help him down
I try to guard against despair
but there are moments when it seems that all human decency is broken down
Alfred will recover from his wounds but he and Tristan seem
to have drifted apart, or worse
I cannot understand it
I miss you more than you can imagine
You are all that is clean and cool and pure
I close my eyes and fix my thoughts on you
I now regret that we listened to everyone and agreed to wait to marry
Even more, I regret that I left before we could be together
as we planned, my beloved
Please stay on at the ranch and wait for me
Don't let Father worry
I know God's mercy will protect me
aided considerably by Tristan
who seems to be in France less to fight the Germans than to act as a nursemaid to me
Captain needs me to translate this before tonight's reconnaissance
- Alfred will want to see you - I'll be there
He's translating He'll be here
Boy, that's a good one
- Vino? - Put that away
- They said you'll get a medal - Yes
- They're sending me home
I'm an officer I belong with my men
What's left of them
MacKenzie was just brought in His leg's turned bad
He said your brother volunteered to take his place
on the reconnaissance with the Capitan
Goddamn it! I told you to stay with him!
- Where? I can't see Samuel
I'm coming! Tristan
Goddamn you, God!
Goddamn you, God!
March 20, 1915
Dear Father and Susannah:
I am being discharged from the Army, but I cannot come home yet
I will write to Grandfather Ludlow in Cornwall and ask him to let me join him and go to sea
As for our beloved Samuel
all I can send home is his heart
Alfred will bring it back
He should be buried up in the box canyon
where he used to draw the birds
Your son, Tristan
He certainly was the best of all of us,
What you saw before Samuel left...
It is Samuel I loved
Tristan will be back someday
Your father will be pleased
Susannah was to return to Boston on the morning train
but a norther blew for three days
and drifted over the tracks
The Colonel insisted she stay on until spring
The house was too empty, he said
This was still her home, he told her
He should have let her go
But how could he have known what would happen?
She was not to blame
She was like the water that freezes in the rock
and splits it apart
It was no more her fault than it is the fault of the water
when the rock shatters
You know how much l...
You know how much I loved Samuel
Out of respect for him, I wanted to say it in this place
I think you know that
I'm in love with you
From the first moment I saw you
That's my mother's overblown romantic imagination coming out in me
You're not making this very easy for me
Is there any hope that you could learn to love me?
Not the way you love Samuel, of course
We could make a life together
I don't think so
Sounds like you're not sure, though Maybe there's a chance?
- I can only cause you pain, Alfred
Why don't you let me be the judge of that?
I didn't break it, but I can fix it
I can put the damn wheel back on and take it off myself Go take a nap
I'm going into town if...
I couldn't save him
Of course you couldn't
I couldn't save him
Have a nice ride today?
When are you planning to be married?
- Make an honest woman of her?
God damn you to hell
Yes, I will marry her, if she'll have me
If she'll have you?
Or did you seduce her just to spite me?
That's not what I did
- What about Samuel?
You tell me about Samuel
We all loved Samuel Samuel is dead What?
How convenient for you
Because you love her, I will forgive you for that
Once You say that again, and we're not brothers
You know you can't make her happy
I'll be leaving today
I wish you both all the best
- Wish me luck Good luck
September 7, 1915
I think I may have found my place in this world
Helena is a city turned modern overnight
bursting with all the energy and vitality of our times
I feel alive here
There is much opportunity for anyone willing to dedicate himself to his labors
Already, I have acquired a reputation for honesty and fair dealing
and I am pleased to call some of Helena's most influential citizens
They are determined to see this city grow, as am I We're proud of you
Mother, thank you for your kind letter
You knew my hopes
That you understand my disappointment
is a great comfort to me
Every night I pray for the grace to forgive Tristan
I know you understand
Your loving son, Alfred
If we have a boy,
I'd like to call him Samuel
And if it's a girl, Isabel
I'll still love you
You'll tolerate me because of how much I love you
I heard from your mother
She says Alfred has hooked up with those damn O'Banion brothers
- He's doing well
- Alfred's gonna do well wherever he is
- Except here with us
- That's my fault - I didn't say that
- Couldn't save Samuel either, could I?
Don't you dare say that That was in God's hands
Lost a couple calves near Camas Canyon - Might be a grizzly
- You take him, Tristan
I don't know why Tristan did not kill that damn old bear
"When a man and an animal have spilled each other's blood
they become one '"
I said four beers, Mr. Sachtleben
I said four beers, Mr. Sachtleben
And I said no Indians
- He's quite civilized, I assure you
- Yeah? - Give him a beer
- Stay out of it - My father said four
We're about to reach an understanding
Just give him a goddamn beer!
You're a damn fool
You're spoiling for a fight with a man who outweighs you
As we speak, he's searching for some kind of a weapon Isn't that right?
To split your stupid skull and kill you and good riddance
- Yes, sir? - I want four beers, now
The lousy owner says he doesn't want to serve Indians
Do you see this man?
His name is One Stab
He's a venerated elder of the Cree and has
counted coup on hundreds of his enemies
He is our friend He's thirsty
I think it was the bear's voice he heard deep inside him
of dark, secret places
Were you going to say good-bye?
How long will you be gone?
Not long A few months
I can make it better for you
If we'd had a child
or if I were pregnant, would you still go?
Just give me a chance
However long it takes
I'll wait for you forever
Will he come back?
I don't know I don't know
April 20, 1918
It has been months now, and still no word
The only sign that you are alive
is a tattered parcel that arrived today from New Guinea
covered with strange writing
and containing what appears to be a native bracelet
Meant for me, I presume
Do you still care to know what is happening here?
Cattle prices continue to fall
and winter seems never ending
Why don't you write?
Are you never coming back and afraid to tell me?
Alfred continues to do well
His business has expanded to include financial concerns in Chicago
I don't pretend to understand
He wants us to send Isabel Two
to boarding school in Chicago
but she adamantly refuses to leave the ranch
I think she, too, is waiting for you
I have nowhere to send this letter
and no reason to believe you wish to receive it
I write it only for myself
I will hide it away with all the things
left unsaid and undone between us
December 12, 1919
I have become a hunter
Tell Stab there are creatures here
that cannot even be found in books
I have killed them all
All we had is dead
Colonel, it looks like we've got company
- I have come to ask for your blessing
You see, these gentlemen and...
And a great many others, I might add
They're urging me to run for office
- The United States Congress
That's how highly we think of your son
And what do you gentlemen hope to get out of this?
I beg your pardon?
I've spoken plain English, sir What do you want for yourselves?
Father, I don't think that these gentlemen...
Didn't you ask that question or do you believe these gentlemen
back you out of patriotic duty and your inestimable worth?
You forget yourself, Father I am no longer a child
Colonel, the Congress...
Congress is government, sir
I worked for the government once
The issues that we...
Indians! Indians were
the issue in those days
There is nothing so grotesque as the meeting of a child with a bullet
or an entire village slaughtered while sleeping
That was the government's resolution of that particular issue
I've seen nothing since then to persuade me it's gained
in wisdom, common sense or humanity
my father, for whom I have the deepest respect
says that the government has neither wisdom nor humanity
I will then consider it my absolute duty as my father's son
to bring both wisdom and humanity
to the United States Congress
I thank you for your blessing
- Gentlemen, wait for me in the cars
Are you all right? What's wrong?
“All we had is dead As I am dead”
I don't know what to say
Tristan's always been wild
- You love him for that
She's to be your brother's wife
though you better remind him of that fact
He's not here to defend himself
No, but I see you are here to defend him and what is his
even though he's abandoned her and you
I won't even speak of who else he abandoned
Don't you blame my son for Samuel's death!
Samuel chose to be a soldier, and soldiers die
sent to their slaughter by men in government Parasites like you!
Damn and blast you!
Shut your mouth Leave her out of this!
Get out of my house and get off my land
Why? Because I want to serve my country as you did?
Or because, like you, I love a woman who doesn't love me?
He used her and deserted her, your darling Tristan
Alfred, don't Please
He stole her from me If you want to know the truth
he stole her from Samuel before the war
God help me, I'll kill you
Read your darling Tristan's letter
You deserve to be happy
Late that night we found
the Colonel on the floor beside a cold fire
His hair turned white overnight
and he became an old man
And after that, Tristan sent no more letters
As the years passed by
we would hear that someone had seen him on a ship
going up some river no white man had gone up before
Stories came to us
And then, for years, there was nothing
He was lost to us
That was all we knew
But every year, in the Moon of the Falling Leaves
But every year, in the Moon of the Falling Leaves
I would dream that the bear's voice
inside him had grown silent
and that Tristan might again come to live in the world
But then the winter would come
And then another spring
And still he stayed away
What the hell is he doing?
Here come in come in
She's a mean old bitch, but she's yours
He had a stroke some years ago
He wants to celebrate
Father, this is for you
"Colonel William Ludlow, from his son Tristan"
These are boars' tusks, made by a Javanese warrior
He, too, was a great man
I have other things for Mother and Little Izzy and Susannah
Alfred and Miss Susannah
were married several years ago
Your brother's a congressman now
They have a big, new place in Helena
It's as it should be
Cattle prices dropped after the war ended
The Colonel ain't seem to care
He lost just about everything he had
We'll make it back on horses or something else
If we have to We'll make it back
He's saying that your brother voted for the Volstead Act
You suggesting I become a bootlegger?
Good money in bootlegging, if you know what you're doing
Screw the government
Screw the government
Forever turned out to be too long
that this was magic
that whoever wore it would be protected
Don't you want to see Alfred?
It's probably better that I don't
I want you to have him
I have something for you too
It's from lerapetra
- That's in... - Crete
- Yeah - I know where it is
Your father taught me European history
A little girl That's me, right?
Okay, we'll see you in a few days
Don't wait on me I'll be fine
Tristan came into the quiet heart of his life
The bear inside him was sleeping
It is hard to tell of happiness
and we feel safe too soon
- I heard the oddest news - Yes? - I heard the oddest news - Yes?
He had the audacity to come here just to see you?
He wanted to see you, but thought you'd get upset
He said to say hello
He told you the news?
What do you think?
Come on It's perfectly absurd Marrying Isabel Two
God, she's practically our sister
She can't be more than, what, 19?
I can't imagine what the hell Decker is thinking of to allow this
Perhaps he's thinking of his daughter's happiness
You, of all people, should know how impossible that is
I'm not Isabel Two
I was so pleased to hear of your coming marriage
Your father must be very happy
Isabel Two is like a daughter to him
as she was named after your own mother
It seems as though it was always meant to be, doesn't it?
Samuel Decker Ludlow
Alfred and I were delighted to hear of your son's birth
We hoped for a child of our own, but of that I despair
I know Alfred thinks of you often
I look forward to the day when we all might see one another again
Your son bears a proud and noble name
I know he will live up to it
Please give my love to Isabel Two
and to your father and everyone else
Yours always, Susannah
Been meaning to talk to you about one or two things
As you know perfectly well
we handle the liquor around here
Now, you've been a small-time operator
An amateur, frankly
Lately, your shipments have been getting a little fat
and my patience has been getting a little thin
So the next time you get in our way
will be the last time
Perhaps you're wondering why you're not dead already
Because your brother is Congressman Ludlow
And that's it That's all
Hello! Bob, how are you?
Hello! Richard, ok?
Can't you just say hello?
- Who's this young man?
Hello, isabelle son
- Who is this lady?
- I'm your Aunt Susannah
I used to know your Uncle Samuel who died in the war
- You look like him
- That's what Grandpa says
Grandpa says that too
Grandpa says I can have Uncle Samuel's gun when I'm bigger
Would you come and see it?
- He's a fine boy
Well? - As well as can be expected
- Pardon the intrusion
Excuse me We're ready for your speech now
I'll be there in a minute
- We'll meet again soon? - I'd like that
I think you missed a bump, Stab
Sir, we have information that you're transporting goods in violation of the Volstead Act
If you mean a case of Irish whiskey for my father, I am
He'll be disappointed
Isabelle son, is it serious?
Let's get out of here
- There's an envelope in his pocket
to stay out of our way
- I don't want to see him
I don't want to see him
I'm so very sorry
Father won't see me, even now?
He blames the government for Isabel's...
There's something we have to talk about
The officer you beat
Now, everyone understands
but you'll have to plead guilty serve 30 days
And the one who shot his gun?
You have to let it go
It was a terrible, tragic accident
You let this go now
You got in over your head
We never get to see you
I gave a speech the other day
My first public engagement
It was on the responsibilities of women in...
It's good to see you
I still sometimes dream
that I'm the mother of your children
I wanted her to die
Maybe I even wanted Samuel to die
You had nothing to do with Samuel's death
And you had nothing to do with Isabel's death
Go home to Alfred
I just went out for a walk I needed a walk
What are you doing home?
Your doctor rang, said you missed your appointment
I called home You weren't here l...
I feel very tired
I'm going to bed
You have won her I am bringing her home
I followed all the rules:
You followed none of them
And they all loved you more
and even my own wife
I'd like a moment alone with her
When Samuel died...
When Samuel died, I cursed God
And I damn everybody around me as well as myself
You are not damned
I won't allow that
You're not damned!
Samuel, this is a gentleman's gun
It's smaller, but it's just as powerful
That's what you want when you grow up, isn't it? A gun
Run along now Go with Pet
Get him in the house
You know we're not here to arrest you
You take me to the woods I don't want my boy to see
I don't want my boy to see
- Father - Colonel Ludlow, sir
What's going on here?
What's going on here?
You don't have to be a genius to know they'll come after you for this
I want to ask you to watch over my children
Brother, it would be an honor
How much I wanted to take scalps
but it was not my kill
we buried the bodies
and dumped the car in a deep pool in the upper Missouri
I remember when he was a boy
I thought Tristan would never live to be an old man
I was wrong about that
I was wrong about many things
It was those who loved him most who died young
He was a rock they broke themselves against
however much he tried to protect them
But he had his honor
and he saw his children grow
and raise their own families
Tristan died in 1963
in the Moon of the Popping Trees
He was last seen up in the north country
where the hunting was still good
His grave is unmarked
but it does not matter
He had always lived in the borderland anyway:
Somewhere between this world and the other
It was a good death