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The Searchers [Blu-ray]
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The plot is deceptively simple; after a Comanche raiding party massacres a family, taking the youngest daughter prisoner, her uncle, Ethan Edwards (Wayne), and adopted brother, Martin Pawley (Jeffrey Hunter), begin a long quest to try and rescue her. Over the course of years, a rich tapestry of characters and events unfold, as the nature of the pair's motives are revealed, and bigoted, bitter Edwards emerges as a twisted man bent on killing the 'tainted' white girl. Only Pawley's love of his 'sister' and determination to protect her stands in his way, making the film's climax, and Wayne's portrayal of Edwards, an unforgettable experience.Read more ›
Now considered possibly the greatest weatern movie of all-time, "The Searchers" was panned by the critics of its day for being just another "ho-hum" John Wayne western. It took years, but modern critics and viewers now recognize it as an epic of western filmmaking that perhaps will never be topped. If I had to choose one movie that represented the best of the west, it is undoubtedly "The Searchers".
John Wayne gives his most intense acting performance as the dark and vengeful Ethan Edwards, who vows to kill the Commanche raiders that murdered his beloved sister-in-law, brother, and took captive two of their daughters. Wayne easily carries the film on his broad brooding shoulders, pursuing the Indians for over 5 years through summer and winter, ever relentless to see their chief, "Scar", dead, and his captive nieces rescued.
Director John Ford is at the height of his creative powers in directing this western masterpiece. He weaves so many different themes and levels of interpretation into the film, that one discovers something new with each viewing. It would take a small treatise to bring out all the subtle details.
Succinctly and to the point, "The Searchers" is a film that you will watch again and again, and love it each time a bit more. It is that absolute best in western filmmaking!
Jim Konedog Koenig
In short, it's not. And let me be absolutely clear about one thing: I have known and loved this film for years. A few sequences look properly spectacular, but after watching this DVD on two separate (and high-quality) televisions, I'm amazed that all of the low-light scenes have been rendered almost completely dark. Like, too dark to tell what's even *happening*. For instance, the scene where Brad (Harry Carey, Jr.) runs off to his death, the scene where Marty's (Jeffrey Hunter's) "bride" is serving coffee along the river, and even the pre-dawn scenes leading up to the final storming of the Comanche camp, are utterly lost in the dark. By contrast, the bare-bones 1997 DVD release features noticeably richer colors in the daytime scenes and total clarity in the low-light scenes I've just mentioned. Don't waste your money on this special edition; you'll be much happier if you just shell out the $10.99 for the 1997 release.
Nonetheless, when seen in the context of its time and to other films around it, it stands tall.
As much as any Ford film, "The Searchers" is a story about a family reunited, a theme to which Ford returned time and again. But in no other Ford film is that theme played out at such a tremendous emotional and spiritual cost.
The implication that Debbie is Ethan's daughter and not his niece comes from Ford and not Alan LeMay's original story. By giving us a date--1868--in the opening fade, then belaboring the exposition of Debbie's age, Ethan's long absence, the barely suppressed tenderness Ethan displays toward Martha and his guilty uneasiness with his brother, it is not hard to do the math. Debbie is Ethan's daughter.
As the theme of family plays out, there is repeated discussion about what constitutes blood kin, especially regarding Marty, who was once "saved" by Ethan, just as Ethan will "save" Debbie. Ethan discounts Marty's entire existence because Marty is one-eighth Cherokee.
Conversely, Ethan endures an epic search for Debbie because she is not only kin and perhaps his last remaining relative, but in fact his daughter. The thought both motivates and crazes Ethan.
Whether Ford decided to hide this dramatic construct because 1950's morality would have disapproved the overt depiction of an illegitimate child (especially in a horse opera!) or because the idea simply served to motivate Ford through the movie is unimportant.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Wayne what is there to say. great for my collection a staple in western collectionsPublished 9 days ago by WILD BILL
One of John Wayne's finest movie in my opinion.His coterie of favored actors, such as Warden, et.al., I always look forward to.Published 16 days ago by Jack R. Kincade
John Wayne doesn't just paly John Wayne in this one. He is a deep dark man who has seen too much. He struggles throughout the movie, and he is given an ultimate test in the end.Published 17 days ago by e. mesa
Never mind all the stuff about this movie touching on racism, as if we haven't heard enough of that, this movie represents a Christophany, with the somewhat savage Ethan (John... Read morePublished 21 days ago by K. Manizade
I bought this after reading, Empire of the Summer Moon by Gwynne. He pointed out that the movie did a pretty accurate job telling a portion of the settlers vs Comanches story. Read morePublished 22 days ago by Mo
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