“God’s Country,” a film directed by Julian Higgins, brings about some essential facets of society. The story, adapted from James Lee Burke’s “Winter’s Light,” depicts how racial indifference in a community causes some people to feel inferior to others. Some prejudiced people see their nation as belonging to God, but they are indifferent toward God’s children, which eventually brings hatred among them. “God’s Country” focuses on Sandra Guidry (played by Thandiwe Newton), a woman of color living in a predominantly white region of Montana. She left her homeland and sought refuge in this mountainous region but soon was threatened by the presence of two trespassers on her land. However, it is up for discussion to what extent Sandra’s fight for her rights caused her to take a violent step in the end.
Who is Sandra Guidry? Why Did Her Mother’s Death Put Her into a Dilemma?
Cassandra Guidry, aka Sandra, who lives in the lofty, snow-capped mountainous region of western Montana, is actually a former cop who settled here after escaping the violent world of law enforcement. The story begins with Sandra’s mother being cremated. Sandra is quiet, stable, and serene, yet her external demeanor shows the inward struggle she is hiding. She left her job as a cop in New Orleans and is now a public-speaking professor at Montana University. Her students respect her because she is a dedicated and honest teacher. She advised her students never to believe that there is nothing they can do to improve the world since there is plenty that needs to be changed. Her lectures are well-attended by the students. Sandra’s eyes brighten as she searches for a whole new world. She is willing to fight for the advancement of her own community because she is the only woman of color in her immediate surroundings, a situation which she wants to change. She thus feels insecure in a community with a white-majority population. Everyone at her employment, including the staff and the principal, Arthur, is white. In the meantime, she even lost her mother, which forced her to sink into seclusion.
Sandra starts to feel even more humiliated when two white hunters, Samuel (played by Jefferson White) and Nathan (played by Joris Jarsky), leave their truck parked near her house. Sandra initially made a humble request to them by leaving a note in their truck. Although she asked them to move their truck from her land, they did not listen to her. They were just aggressive people who were not used to responding to requests as they thought they had complete freedom to leave their vehicle wherever they wanted. They resolve not to change their attitude in response to Sandra’s courteous requests. Infuriated, Sandra tows their truck to show them that she isn’t afraid and has the confidence to defend herself. They reacted by shooting an arrow at her door and refused to move.
Sandra called the police for assistance. She speaks with deputy Sheriff Wolf (played by Jeremy Bobb). However, she notices Wolf’s sluggish speed and a slight contempt for her concern, so she accompanies him as he goes to warn Nathan and Samuel. But their warning doesn’t quite work. Sandra follows Nathan’s truck to a church in the meantime. Getting in there, she temporarily loses strength as she notices Nathan’s mother playing the organ. Asking why she’s there, Nathan takes a seat next to her. She responds by showing her grief. She shares with Nathan the story of her late mother, who used to play the church organ. Nathan can empathize with Sandra’s anguish, but his mother motions for him to ask Sandra to leave the church. Sandra is aware of how much prejudice there is still against individuals of color. They view the church as God’s house, and they separate God’s children there. Later, when Sandra encounters Wolf at Arthur’s Christmas party, she reveals about her past life and her mother’s demise. Her tenure as a police officer in New Orleans came to an end when she left the force because of brutality and racial discrimination. Sandra had to leave her mother in Orleans since her devout mother forbade her from leaving the country. In a horrific hurricane, her mother died. Sandra believed that her mother’s belief in God was just superstition, because if God existed, he would have prevented her death. However, she also had a sense of conflict as she believed that she should have stayed at her mother’s side instead of rushing to leave Orleans and come here to work. The loss of Sandra’s mother shocked her to the point that her remorse traumatized her. In several of the movie’s scenes, blood appears to fall like raindrops, which is possibly Sandra’s nightmare-inducing recollection of her deceased mother.
Why Did Sandra Feel Threatened?
Sandra, at her workplace as well as in her locality, seems to be the only person of color among the white population. She was compelled to resign from the agency in New Orleans due to racial prejudice, and she now confronts the same issues in her new job. Whether it was in the faculty members or in a recommendation list for hiring the Dean, none of the departments in her college had any persons of color. In such a situation, it is normal for a person to feel humiliated and alienated. Additionally, Nathan and Samuel parked their truck on her land, which might not seem like a huge matter to most locals but is a significant deal to a community that has historically been subjected to racial oppression. Due to her sovereign rights, Sandra could not tolerate trespassing on her land. She wanted to exclude those people from her area, as she has always felt excluded from society as a woman of color.
While rummaging through her mother’s belongings, Sandra discovers a vintage photograph of her community. The picture gave her a glimmer of hope in her darkness of solitude. In fact, at that party, when asked by Wolf why she wanted to be a police officer, she told him her purpose was to serve her community. So, it is apparent that she does have a motive in her life that awakens her conscience. She loves the people of her community so much that she does not want them to be deprived. So, it was natural for her to feel threatened by the encroachment on her land. Even her student Gretchen (played by Tanaya Beatty), who was also Arthur’s assistant, confessed to her about Arthur’s sexual harassment. Arthur (played by Kai Lennox), who was Sandra’s neighbor as well as the head of the department, may have touched Gretchen inappropriately, which she did not want to reveal. Sandra wanted her to protest, but instead of having a voice, Gretchen stepped back. Sandra, being intolerant of injustice, took a break from university to get rid of the dilemma.
Why Did Sandra Feel Connected to the Deer? Why Did She Bury It?
Sandra was left alone only with her mother’s memories and her dog. Through this memory, she finds a picture that she kept close to her. A picture that gave her a sense of family. While taking her dog for a morning walk, she finds a mother deer and her baby, which puts a smile on her face. She feels connected by seeing them together. But not content with just parking the truck on Sandra’s property, Nathan and Samuel go deer hunting with Arthur in her neighborhood. Sandra felt hurt when she saw the dead deer on their truck. She immediately realized that whatever made her feel connected and gave her a sense of comfort would be snatched by the white community. Instead of treating it as just a mere insignificant animal, she buried it with the utmost respect. As Samuel could not tolerate Sandra’s interference, they decided to kill her dog and eventually set her home on fire.
‘God’s Country’ Ending Explained: Why Did Sandra Kill Nathan and Samuel?
Sandra verbally objected to Nathan and Samuel’s act of parking their truck on her land, but her argument was dismissed repeatedly. Instead, Nathan and Samuel exhibit their most cruel selves. Where Sandra wanted to solve the problem by simply passing a note or communicating with them, Samuel insulted her. As a result, Sandra is forced to tow their truck first to divert them from this location. But the results become more gruesome. All limits are crossed when they burn down Sandra’s house. Finally, at some point, Sandra could not cope with the torture anymore. For a long time, she hid a revolver in her room, which clearly shows her indifference to violence, but in the end, she is forced to pick up arms, and Sandra thereby chooses violence. She enters Nathan and Samuel’s house and kills them, as they not only burn down Sandra’s house but destroy her mother’s memories, her emotions, and her entire legacy.
Nathan may not have deserved this outcome in Sandra’s transition from nonviolence to violence because he felt Sandra’s pain and even growled when Samuel set her house on fire. But it took a long time for him to have a voice. He may not have wanted Sandra to get hurt, but he didn’t stop Samuel from causing the harm. Thus, Nathan receives the just penalty for his fate. Sandra makes a decision that may traumatize her for a long time, but she remains honest with herself. She had just done her job, protested injustice and punished criminals.
“God’s Country” is a 2022 Drama Thriller film directed by Julian Higgins.