Monday, 23 February 2015

The Edwards family being attacked - The Searchers

I have chosen to analyse the scene where Ethan’s family is attacked by the Native Americans.

It is interesting how there is no music playing for the majority of the scene. The music stops when Martha tells her son to close the shutter and it only begins again when Scar appears. The music stops when it is clear that the family is in danger and it does not begin again until the danger is there, when we see Scars shadow looming over Debbie. This adds more tension to the scene and more of a sense of danger.
When Aaron suspects the Native American’s are on their way he pretends he is going to shoot some birds in order to not scare his family. The fact that he goes straight for his gun, tells us that he automatically thinks of the Native Americans as a threat.

When Lucy realises they are in danger she doesn’t ask who is coming, instead she screams as she automatically knows it’s the Native Americans. This shows how this film portrays the Native Americans as being savage and dangerous. Lucy’s scream when she understands what is happening shows how they see Native Americans as ultimately evil, and dangerous. Lucy has to be slapped by her mother to stop her from panicking as she is so terrified by the threat of the Native Americans.

When Scar does arrive he arrives silently from the wilderness as his shadow looms over Debbie. It creates the feeling of fear as one moment the Edwards are settling down for dinner and the next they are trapped in their home with a threat about to attack at any minute.

This scene reinforces the idea that in the American West the settlers were the civilised people and the Native Americans were uncivilised savage people who attacked innocent settlers. This was not true, yet this film suggests that the Native Americans would attack families unprovoked and this idea becomes the basis of the films whole plot.

the searchersd ending scene
Image result for the searchers
at the end of the movie we get the happy ending the audience was hoping for. Ethan Edwards didn't kill Debbie, Martin Pawley has Laurie and Moses has his rocking chair. but at the end of it all we see Ethan Edwards standing framed in the doorway mirroring the benign of the movie but this time none pulls him in and he leaves.One of the themes of the western is that at the end the hero has to leave the town because he no longer belongs there, so it could be said that is what happens here.

The Searchers

The Final Scene

I chose to take a closer look at the final scene, from the point that Ethan (John Wayne) swoops Debbie up into his arms and says "Lets go home." This idea of 'home' was what struck a chord with me as I questioned whether Ethan really had a home. His brother welcomed him into his home at the beginning of the film but he was always awkward and on the move, as if ready to take off into the wilderness he had been roaming before his return. 

There is an almost cyclical narrative to the film as the end shot shows him turning around and walking towards the wilderness, the place he seemed to find the most comfort in as he knew how the wilderness worked - civilisation seemed to be rather difficult. Ethan seemed to come alive in the wilderness with something to search for, and when that searching is over he feels he still cannot return to civilisation. This could be put down to guilt, perhaps, as he was originally going to try and kill Debbie, or it could be a belief that he could not survive in the world of civilisation as he himself had become one with the wilderness, much like the Indians. The latter option seems more likely on account of his ideas of racism and his realisation that he is more like the people he hates than he first realised. 

The door is one of the biggest motifs in the film and its part in the final scene only acted to make it all the more important. Everything can change a few steps inside the door and a few steps outside, there are no real boundaries from the inside civilisation and the outside savage wilderness. Evidently Ethan feels that he is just not ready for the civilisation of the world, and retreats to the savage wilderness that he feels he knows best.


Sunday, 22 February 2015

The Searchers - Rangers Vs. Warriors

The scene i chose to analyze from The Searchers  - John Wayne accompanies the Texas rangers on his initial pursuit of his niece (post sacking of the 'homestead') , the armed group pursue a war band of Texan Native Americans. The scene setting, is of the  group becoming encircled by the Indians led by Chief 'Scar'.  the scene is set in the traditional western landscape i.e. desert, rocky peaks and barren terrain, with the 'righteous' white group of law enforcement agent who become ambushed by the Indians (portrayed in the stereotypical view of the 'Native American'; dressed in large feathered headdress and carrying primitive weaponry and old era guns) who sound the  'war cry' and chase the protagonist and company and proceed in an unsuccessful attack, leading to a setting at the river, this allows the company to take up defensive positions and repulse the attack.

 This is a representation of the ineptitude of the natives in fighting the superior 'white man'. The myth of the 'western' is exacerbated due to the way the fight scene is executed, in that the outnumbered 'white men' prevail due to their superior firearm technologies and upheld moral.

The concept of 'western' cinema during this era (1950s) , was developed to emphasis how easily the west was won. it is epitomized in this scene because the defeat at the river renders the war band ineffective until later in the film; this was created to appeal to the contemporary audience, to whom they would predominately hold favor with John Wayne. Although the negative perception of John Wayne's character Ethan Edwards is thoroughly promoted in this scene (as a aggressive and over zealous individual) the overall effect of the battle sequence is to created excitement and allow the viewer to accept that the Edwards party was in a position of dominance over the native americans.