As if the all-star cast isn’t enough (Hello, Chris Pratt and Denzel Washington!), MGM and Columbia Pictures’ “Magnificent Seven” sucked us into the wild-west fanfare by casting a bow-wielding mounted warrior. Can it get any more magnificent than riding bareback while taking out bad guys with a bow and arrow?
“The Magnificent Seven” is set in the late 1800s in the Western town of Rose Creek, where money-hungry industrialist Bartholomew Bogue is raiding the town and killing its people, including the husband of Emma Cullen (Haley Bennett). Seeking to avenge her husband’s death and protect the town, Cullen hires bounty hunter Sam Chisolm (Denzel Washington) to give Bogue a taste of his own medicine.
Chisolm forms a team of seven mercenaries by first enlisting help from Josh “The Gambler” Farraday, played by Chris Pratt. Four additional outlaws, gamblers and hired guns boost the team to six, leaving one spot for our archery warrior, Red Harvest (Martin Sensmeier).
“When Red Harvest comes into the film, he’s tracking the six, and they don’t realize they’re being tracked,” Sensmeier said in an interview with Sony Pictures. “When they finally do realize, he reveals himself.”
Sensmeier describes Red Harvest as a loner. He believes he’s destined for a path separate from his tribe, and asks to join Chisolm’s eclectic band of misfits. But with Bogue as their target, Red Harvest’s new path could lead to destruction. Fear not: He’s ready to fight, and he has the background to do it!
The Comanche, of course, are a Native American nation whose territory spanned western Oklahoma, eastern New Mexico, southeastern Colorado, southwestern Kansas and most of northwestern Texas. The Comanche dominated the Great Plains as skilled hunter-gatherers and horseback warriors.
“Because of their incredible military mastery, which derived from the horse, they were the prototype horse tribe; the tribe that could do more with the horse than any other tribe could,” said author S. C. Gwynne in an interview with NPR.
It makes sense, then, for Sensmeier’s Red Harvest to shoot horseback archery and be dubbed the Magnificent Seven’s “Warrior.”
In the movie, Sensmeier shoots a traditional longbow. Riding horseback, nocking flaming arrows, leaping off buildings — you name it, Red Harvest can do it. But not without training.
Sensmeier told Cowboys & Indians reporter Hunter Hauk he took bareback lessons from a Montana Blackfoot native. “I started working with him for about an hour-and-a-half to two hours a day, five days a week. I trained for a whole month, every day with him, taking bareback lessons.”
We’re unsure of Sensmeier’s archery background, but our guess (after sufficient social media stalking) is that he has at least some experience.
Sensmeier was raised in a Tlingit coastal tribal community in Southeast Alaska, where he grew up immersed in his people’s culture and traditions. “We grew up fishing and hunting, learning that from a very young age,” Sensmeier told Hauk. “That’s what we do, and depending on the land for sustenance, everything up there; all the traditional foods, we still eat them.”
The area is also home to a lush rainforest, making wood a regional commodity. The Alaska Native Heritage Center reports that everything from houses and clothes to utensils and tools were made of wood. Although not confirmed, it would make sense for Sensmeier to have grown up shooting a traditional wooden longbow, perhaps even for bowhunting and bowfishing.
Although his character represents a different regional culture, Sensmeier’s Red Harvest inspires Alaska’s native kids to try archery.
“(This kid’s) uncle was telling me (he) wanted to be Red Harvest, just from seeing the trailer,” Sensmeier told Hauk. “It’s incredible. He was talking about how he’s looking for the right bow. This is an 8-year-old kid. He sees this guy on TV, Red Harvest, and he’s like, ‘Man, that’s cool, I want to be that.’”
It wouldn’t be the first time a TV character inspired audiences to try archery. (We’re looking at you, Katniss!)
“The Magnificent Seven” promises warfare, pistol duels, a rock-star cast and – yes – badassery with a bow. See the longbow action yourself. “The Magnificent Seven” is in theaters now.