Great Moments In Film – The Searchers (1956)
Little bit of a late start today. Anytime you pair up Johns Ford and Wayne, you know the movie is going to be great (at the very least). The Seachers is arguably the finest film they made together. Wayne plays Ethan Edwards, a man who’s returning “home” after years on the trail following the Civil War (he fought for the Confederacy). Like with much of the movie, not much is said of what Ethan was up to during that time. No, it’s all up to speculation and visual cues (much like a possible unspoken love between Ethan and his brother’s wife).
After he returns, his family are massacred by the Comanche tribe with his two nieces (daughters?) kidnapped. He then goes on a five year quest to bring home the one surviving girl (the older one is found dead early on).
This is the final scene, obviously. Ethan has safely brought Debbie home. She’s carried into an house by neighbors. Ethan attempts to walk-in as well, but others beat him to it. Then he stands, contemplating. He can’t go home like everyone else, despite his success. It never was home to him nor did most of the people in the community want him there to begin with. Further more, there is a longing Ethan has: this is the life he had always wanted, but events have shaped him into a being in which it just isn’t possible. He’s a loner, always has been and always will be.
Just a beautifully shot scene which also contains one of the most iconic images of Wayne. He holds his right elbow as a salute to Harry Carey, a deceased western star who served as a mentor to a very young Wayne.
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