Books and Movies Reviews

The Searchers

In 1956, one of the most memorable western films ever made was The Searchers, directed by John Ford. The thematic opposition represented in this movie is revenge, one man's wandering and obsessive search. It is also a story about the struggle for self-discovery and the matter of racial prejudice.
Thefirst scene takes us to the opening of a frontier cabin door. The framing forces us to see two different ways of life. The interior area represents a civilized world with morals and established values. The exterior, or the outside, is representative of what is savage and hostile.
After many years, Ethan Edwards (John Wayne) unexpectedly returns from the war to visit his brother Aaron (Walter Coy). It is clearly obvious that Ethan is an outsider, he will never know how it feels to live a civil life and understand the norms of society. In fact, his presence destroys the stability of the Edwards family.
Upon Ethan's arrival the audience can get a sense of the different relationships the characters have established. Aaron's wife Martha (Dorothy Jordan) greets Ethan in a way that indicates they had a previous relationship. The implication tells us that Martha would have married Ethan had he not disappeared so long after the War.
Another character we meet up with is Martin Pawley (Jeffry Hunter). Aaron adopted Martin many years ago after Ethan saved him from an Indian slaughter. Ethan does not acknowledge Martin as a true family member simply because he is part Cherokee. His hatred for Indians affects his relationship with a person who does care and is not trying to do him any harm. Ethan's personality has a difficult time separating the destructive world form the civil world, when generosity comes his way he doesn't know how to handle it.
Within a day, conflict arises for the characters and their lives. The neighbor, Lars Jorgenson (John Qualen) and Captain/Reverend Samuel Clayton (Ward Bond) come to w…


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