Meek's Cutoff is a 2010 American western film directed by Kelly Reichardt. The film was shown in competition at the 67th Venice International Film Festival. The story is loosely based on a historical incident on the Oregon Trail in 1845, in which frontier guide Stephen Meek led a wagon train on an ill-fated journey through the Oregon desert along the route later known as the Meek Cutoff in the western United States.
In 1845, a small band of settlers traveling across the Oregon High Desert suspect their guide, Stephen Meek, may not actually know where he is going. What was supposed to be a two-week journey, via what became known as the Meek Cutoff, stretches into five. With no relief in sight, tensions rise as water becomes increasingly scarce and supplies run low. The wives look on as the husbands discuss what to do, unable to participate in the decision making. The dynamics of power begin to shift when they capture a lone native and hold him captive in the hopes he will lead them to water. Meek argues the native can't be trusted, though doesn't present a more trustworthy leader himself. When he steps up to shoot the native, Mrs. Tetherow intervenes. In the end, when Mr. Tetherow succumbs to hardship, Meek submits to Mrs. Tetherow. She looks toward the native, who walks into the distance.