What Is the Story of Jeremiah Johnson?


Quick Answer

"Jeremiah Johnson" is a 1972 Western film based on the life of mountain man Liver-Eating Johnson. The movie features Robert Redford in the title role. The story involves Johnson, a veteran of the Mexican-American war, attempting to find peace as a mountain man in the Rocky Mountains.

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Full Answer

The story of "Jeremiah Johnson" begins with the title character seeking refuge in the American West. Johnson attempts to hunt using a rifle he finds by a corpse, but his efforts prove unsuccessful. “Bear Claw” Chris Lapp, who teaches him how to survive as a mountain man, then takes in Johnson. Johnson eventually sets off on his own, after learning necessary skills from Lapp and a brief run-in with a local Native American tribe.

Johnson eventually marries Swan, a young Native-American woman and the daughter of a tribal chief. However, Johnson returns home one day to find Swan murdered by a villainous tribe, led by Paints-His-Shirt-Red. Johnson manages to kill all of his wife's killers, except for one, who Johnson leaves alive to warn his tribe about the mountain man who came looking for revenge. The film ends with a wordless encounter between Johnson and Paints-His-Shirt-Red. Johnson prepares for a fight to the death, but Paints-His-Shirt-Red raises an open palm, offering a truce, which Johnson accepts.

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