News of the World Brings History to Life

News of the World Brings History to Life

Morgan Reed, Entertainment Editor

It’s a miracle that movies are even being released right now, but the new releases are the only thing keeping people from watching the same show over and over again. 


News of The World is yet another movie released during these trying times that will fuel the fire of everyone’s need for an escape during these trying times. The film is based on Paulette Jiles’s novel, and follows Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd, played by Tom Hanks, as he attempts to return 10-year-old Johanna, played by Helena Sengel, to her family. 


Kidd, a former captain in the Confederate army, travels alone from town to town collecting newspapers and reading the news to those who can’t read it for themself. One day while traveling to the next town, he finds a young girl dressed in traditional Kiowa, an indiginous people’s tribe that migrated to the Southern Plains in the early 19th century. Her carriage had been ransacked, and her chaperone, a black man, had been killed. He brings her to local authorities and finds that she was kidnapped by the Kiowa after her family was killed when she was 2. 


Because her chaperone was killed, the only hope for survival for Johana is Captain Kidd, or she must find her way in the west in hopes that an officer of the state comes looking for her. Reluctantly, Captain Kidd decides to take the girl with him to the last few towns in the area to read the news, and afterward will take her home. 


However, as they encounter adversaries and natural disasters on their journey through the desert, it becomes clear to Captain Kidd that Johanna, also called Cicada in Kiowa, has become accustomed to the Kiowa lifestyle. He even learns that her tribe was murdered when she was found, thus why her hair is shorter than the traditional long braids dawned by the Kiowa, a sign of mourning. 


She doesn’t speak a word of english, only a sentence or two of German, and won’t survive with a family that cannot help her acclimate to a new lifestyle. An orphan twice over, it is up to Captain Kidd to decide Johanna’s fate, will he leave her in the hands of strangers, or help her lead a more fulfilled life. 


News of The World is a very different take on the traditional epic Western, and gives audiences a glimpse of history many will not have realized existed. The themes of xenophobia, racism, loss, and willingness to accept others will transcend all audiences and captivate even the most avid western-haters. 


The dichotomy presented of an aging military man and a young girl who grew up thinking she was Kiowa, forces viewers to consider their own internalized prejudices as they sympathize with characters from two worlds on opposite sides of a war.