Silent Tongue
About 50 miles outside of Roswell is the filming location for Silent Tongue. Written & Directed by Sam Shepard, starring Richard Harris and River Phoenix. Filmed in 1992, released in 1994. I contacted the cattle rancher who owns the property and he kindly agreed to take us out to the filming location. The rental car we had wouldn't get us to the site so The Rancher offered to pick us up at our hotel parking lot.

We had to take a dirt road for the last few miles. Not easy to get to and impossible to find without guidance. The Rancher said that except for him and a few ranch hands, no one has been anywhere near this location since production ended 22 years ago. I was the first person to see the site.

The Rancher told me that the production was searching for an area to film and that he was the one who showed Sam Shepard The Tree location. The Tree was hit by lightning and suffered a split a few years before filming and that's what gave its appeal to the filmmakers. But since filming, The Tree has split further and fallen.

You can still see the wooden board where River's character would sit in The Tree with his deceased wife. What looks like a hornets nest in the center of The Tree is actually faded cosmetic work the FX team used to disguise a scar from the lightning strike.

As if any story involving a movie with the great Richard Harris could go by without a good drunk tale, The Rancher mentioned how Richard Harris "loved to drink and River Phoenix tried to keep up with him" (after hours of course).

Silent Tongue is not a great film but it does have moments of greatness. It's more of an art-house Western, not really accessible to mainstream audiences (not necessarily a bad thing). Here's the trailer for the film, which actually makes the movie look pretty powerful...

Silent Tongue (1994) Trailer

I didn't take screen captures with me this time around but this image gets close: