It takes some time to get used to the pace of ‘Godless’, but once you do, you will get bowled over by everything in it.
An interesting take on the Westerns, yet serving all the ingredients–gunfire, duel finale, satanic villains, loner hero etc–in good measures. What sets ‘Godless’ apart from a B movie western is ironically its leisurely pace and the build up to next episodes. Equally worth mentioning are interesting characters, terrific acting and brilliant production values. Thumbs up for editing and music, both grow on you and pull you into the action and the drama of this mini series.
Often, the right casting of the protagonists does it for a good execution. ‘Godless’ makes it great, with almost all the characters perfectly cast, right from Jeff Daniels as the devil incarnate to Tantoo Cardinal as the Indian grandmother…and the lesser screentime actors from the black town. In the end every ones get their share of hurrah and lift the series to the next level.
One does wonder about the portrayal of Frank Griffin, by Jeff Daniels, an unique take of a villain who is so sure of himself yet that morally wrong. May be you could position his take of the charcter between between El Indio (Gian Maria Volontè) in ‘For a Few dollars more’ and Little Bill Daggett (Gene Hackman) in ‘Unforgiven’. Frank Griffin is in a way opposite to these characters though…if the villain in ‘For a Few dollars’ is in constant turmoil and subconsciously waits for death, Frank on the other hand believes death can’t touch him. In ‘Unforgiven’ Sheriff believes he has an entitlement to certain beautiful future, and has a goal sort of, while Frank only interest is in mayhem and murder, till Roy Goode provides him with something to go after.
Undeniably Jeff Daniels delivers one of the best performances and depicts the villain in a manner we haven’t seen before. This also brings the excellent writing into spotlight, and you could say material was all there for him to play with.
Overall, ‘Godless’ is a must watch for all fans of Westerns and good drama….and if you make it to the final episode, it is worth the effort.
For a Few Dollars More
Title Music and Sequence