The Missing (2003)

Cate Blanchett as: Magdalena (Maggie) Gilkeson
Directed by: Ron Howard
Selected Cast: Tommy Lee Jones, Evan Rachel Wood, Aaron Eckhart, Eric Schweig & Val Kilmer
Written by: Thomas Eidson & Ken Kaufman
Release Year: 2003
Genre: Adventure / Thriller / Western
MPAA Rating: R

In 19th-century New Mexico, a father comes back home, hoping to reconcile with his adult daughter Maggie. Maggie’s daughter is kidnapped, forcing father and estranged daughter to work together to get her back.

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Quotes from Cate Blanchett

• “I loved making it, I had a ball – cowboys and Indians. This is the thing, I love doing things which I’d never envisaged before. And so getting me on the back of a horse, with Tommy Lee Jones and shooting guns and chasing Indians, it’s just not something that I would have expected myself to be doing.”

On her character Maggie
• “She seems to be a no-nonsense, devout pioneer woman. As the story progresses however, it is clear that, in so many ways, she’s as contrary as her father. Like Jones, Maggie is on an emotional, physical and spiritual passage that reveals every aspect of her character – not just her grit and courage, but also her more maternal side as well as her fragility, her fears, her fallibility and often judgmental nature.”

• “As much as it is set in the Southwest, there is at the heart of it, a story of an estrangement and the journey toward reconciliation and redemption. Maggie sees a lot of herself in her girls, but her relationship with Lilly is troubled. Lilly is older, and Maggie is trying to prevent her daughter from experiencing the same adolescent disasters she herself experienced. And that’s just impossible. She and Lilly are in this constant tussle, so when she’s kidnapped, Maggie is wracked with guilt. She believes in some strange way that it’s her fault that Lilly has gone missing.”

• “Its all about nuance. On both the physical and emotional level, it all comes back to Maggie. As arduous and painful as this journey is, it is also a kind of healing one for Maggie and her family. She goes through so much loss and struggle and yet she and her daughters emerge stronger and are really able to move forward in a powerful, positive way.”

On how she did research for her character
• “The frontier experience was a harsh journey into the wilderness, and there is a wisdom that comes from that. In reading the diaries of pioneer women, I was fascinated by their resilience and its impact on their femininity. Maggie is someone who has submerged some of her more ‘feminine’ feelings because of her traumatic childhood and the harshness of daily life. There is a damaged quality to her. At the same time, because of her circumstances, she is incredibly physical, and better able to withstand physical difficulties than the emotional ones.”

On the director Ron Howard
• “Ron is astonishing, especially since this was a very hard shoot with difficult terrain and intense emotional scenes. He and the cinematographer, Salvatore Totino, did extraordinary things. Ron’s work is always rich with idiosyncrasy, scope and drama. All that is definitely in The Missing.”

Quotes from Others

Ron Howard on Cate and casting her as Maggie
• “Cate was ideal for this role, because she is sexy, powerful and interesting as an actress. She has an inner strength that makes you feel she could stand up to the bad guys. Very few actresses have that command and level of power.”

• “The choice of Blanchett was key to creating such a strong, multi-dimensional character. Her level of preparation, her innate honesty, both as a person and as an actor, really served the material. Coaches like to talk about star athletes who support the team in intangible ways. That was true of Cate. She has great ideas, asks smart questions and accesses her own humanity in ways that are startling to watch and really exciting to direct. It was fascinating to see her develop this role and invest it with so much power. She took it to another level. At the same time as she embodied the stoic, strong women who existed during that era, she was a very contemporary kind of character.”

Val Kilmer
“I not only forgot my dialogue in the scene, I forgot that I was acting, I forgot I was on a movie set, and I just stood there staring at her.”

Evan Rachel Wood
“I can’t say enough good things about Cate; everybody’s so sick of hearing me talk about her. I just think she is absolutely incredible; and I’ve looked up to her, you know, even before the film, and I just look up to her even more now.”

Quotes from her Character

• Kayitah: “Forget the hides. Give us your horses and your guns and we’ll call it even.”
Samuel Jones: “They want our horses and guns.”
Magdalena Gilkeson: “I am not giving over my horses! You understand? You’ll have to kill me first! You tell em… You, you tell em what I said.”
Samuel Jones: “Now look. You pissed her off.”

• Samuel Jones: “You take this money for your children.”
Magdalena Gilkeson: “No, you take it for your funeral.”

• Magdalena Gilkeson: “You know that Indian name of yours? Wha, what’s that, what’s that mean?”
Samuel Jones: “Very hard to translate that.”
Magdalena Gilkeson: “Try it.”
Samuel Jones: “It means ‘shit for luck.'”

Magdalena Gilkeson: “Why didn’t you stay?”
Samuel Jones: “There’s an Apache story about a man that woke up one morning and saw a hawk on the wind. Walked outside and never returned. After he died he met his wife in the spirit world. She asked him why he never came home, he said “Well, the hawk kept flying”. There’s always the next something, Maggie. And that will take a man away.”

Trivia & Facts

• Filmed in USA (view all.)

• 1 win & 8 nominations (view all.)

• Also known as ‘The Last Ride’.

• Val Kilmer, who lives on a nearby New Mexico ranch, agreed to a cameo in this film, secondary to his work with New Mexico’s Film Investment Program.

• Tommy Lee Jones and Eric Schweig learned some Chiricahua Apache for this film. Their instructors were two of the last three remaining fluent speakers.

• The pack horse wears a brass-buckled English leather halter (modern type of halter) throughout the movie.

• When Samuel speaks to the bird sitting next to him, the bird has a yellow plastic ring around its right ankle.