The often misunderstood but never unappreciated Western opus from the magnanimous John Ford has been heralded as possibly the greatest American film ever made. It certainly boasts its cultural identity without mistake, as all Westerns do, but The Searchers is particularly capturing of both our country’s history and character. One of the earliest revisionist Westerns, The Searchers takes the mythological cowboy, as built-up by Ford and Western star/pupil John Wayne, and deconstructs the motivation and troubled personality behind the heroic archetype with Wayne’s portrayal of the uncouth, violent, and unabashedly racist character of Ethan Edwards. The film challenges us with iconoclastic themes, simultaneously praising the knight of the frontier as a hero while also condemning his brutal methods and motivations. It causes us to take pause and question the ethics of our heroes, all the while painting a stunning Western odyssey against the backdrop of Ford’s beloved Monument Valley in glorious Paramount VistaVision.
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9:55: The media takedown of Richard Jewell
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27:15: The spectacular cinematography of 1917
32:46: The Searchers