Sunday, January 16, 2011

Shane (George Stevens)

Alan Ladd as the mysterious yet endearing Shane.

Film Review Archive (date seen: November 4, 2010)

Though it's stupid as it may sound, part of the reason why I do not like to watch this film before was the almost zero appeal of its poster (it does look very cheap, with Alan Ladd purposely looking sideways for the camera) considering the heights that "Shane" had reached ever since. But then I found out, after watching it, that it's one of the more contemplative of "old" westerns, that which dwells not just in common sentiments of former gunfighters being passed by time, but also in the crisis of decisions, the choice to act, and its consequences.

Shane is a character unlike any other mythical gunslingers that have graced the silver screens; here is a man not hardened by past violence, but shaken, guilt-ridden, and traumatized by it (it's also the primary theme of Clint Eastwood's "Unforgiven"). Alan Ladd is heroic, straight, and enigmatic enough for the eponymous role, though in my opinion, he's often overshadowed by Van Heflin's performance as Joe Starrett. Given that more serious westerns has been rising in the mainstream at the time (such as "The Ox-Bow Incident" and its unforgiving commentary on mob lynching), "Shane" is definitely a western film that has carried its theme precisely to where it intends to, and sets the tone for further "moral explorations" in the western world, paving way for the films of the genre more concerned with "what the man with the gun thinks and feels" than "what the gun would do to a man who does not".

The common cliche "...and the hero rides into the sunset" is always ever present in horse operas, accompanied by a musical score to enhance the scenery and sense of victory. But "Shane" gave the "sunset" a whole new meaning and the celebratory score interchanged by a child's lone call. For a hero. For an idol. For a friend.


No comments:

Post a Comment

1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die

Ivan6655321's Schneider 1001 movies widget