On October 26th 1881, the gunfight at the OK Corral took place cementing Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday’s names at a significant moment in American history. Tombstone-Rashomon attempts to retell the story from the points of view of various people involved in the famous gunfight.
These people include Wyatt Earp (Adam Newberry) and Doc Holliday (Eric Schumacher) themselves, adding a little tongue in cheek humour as it tells its story.
The opening text of Tombstone-Rashomon tells the audience about a time travelling camera crew who went back in time and accidentally got to Tombstone the day after the notorious gunfight, saying that the following will be eye witness accounts. This firmly tells the audience that as well as the retelling of the story of the gunfight, there’s going to be a little fun had with the story and for the most part there are some comical moments. Some moments that work and some that don’t.
Unfortunately, this element, despite being partly inspired by the 1950 Japanese film, Roshomon doesn’t really lend anything to the story and in fact distracts from the way it’s told. A particular moment is spoiled when after a dramatic retelling of the story, Earp is told to hold something up for the camera, wiping out any tension from the previous scene.
There’s also the issue that if a camera crew did time travel back to the day after the gunfight, then how did they get the footage of the events as told by the interviewees?
There is also some rather forced dialogue and character choices that are distracting and unnecessary. Although they may have seemed funny at the time, they don’t translate well to an audience. Little-known facts are also scattered throughout the script and brought up without prompting, seemingly only put in to show the audience that the filmmakers have done their research.
Facts such as Doc Holliday having been a dentist is brought up several time and there’s a bizarre choice to have Hungarian born Mary Katherine Horony-Cummings, here simply known as Kate (Christine Doidge) assign the incorrect gender pronouns to the men she talks about. Even if that may have been accurate to how she spoke it’s still odd, jarring and unfunny to those who don’t know the real person’s story that well.
Considering Tombstone-Rashomon’s limited budget the costumes and locations that retell the story add to the atmosphere and for a while they immerse the audience in the telling of the gunfight from such unique perspectives, despite the obvious fly-on-the-wall style filming.
However, as a link to Rashomon it doesn’t work because there have been so many mockumentaries throughout cinema that it feels like the attempt to link the two is yet another attempt to suggest the filmmakers are cleverer than they really are.
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