There’s a reason it’s considered the greatest American Western, it’s without a doubt one of the greatest movies ever made in my opinion. It showcases everything that makes John Ford revolutionist he was and John Wayne the legend he was. Taking topics and settings that are now classic, this has everything you could ever need. Not many movies have such a large scale and powerful impact, this is truly a legend of the past.
This uses the idea of cowboys vs. Indians in a very epic way, showing the ugly side of each. While Scar is about as bloodthirsty and evil as villains come, John Wayne’s Ethan shows an equally ugly side. In many ways, the five year story is about changing a man. Racism is shown in full effect and how destructive and horrible it can become. The idea of someone killing their own family because they associated with another culture is scary. The politics of this still ring true today and work as a sort of cautionary tale. However, nothing seems heavy handed or overbearing. It’s more effective in the subtle nature it’s presented in. You see it’s effect only at the tail end of the story. In accordance to this being a story of racism, it’s also a story about family and love. Ethan and Martin’s journey to find and rescue Debbie is so powerful, even after 5 years they never even question giving up or surrendering to the easy way out. Over those five years, their bond together is so strong that they become the father and son that they always should have been. The end result of these stories is completely and utterly breathtaking. The Searchers has the greatest ending sequence of any movie in any genre. It’s power will be forever unmatched.
John Wayne will always be the biggest movie star to ever live whether you love him or hat him. He has the most extensive library and defines the meaning of a true star. His influence and impact on Hollywood is something that everyone has to acknowledge. His performance in this is in a lot of ways his greatest. It takes everything he had done before and shattered it with this honest yet complex performance. Ethan isn’t just the definition of a broken man, he’s an anti-hero in the truest sense. From when he rides up to the screen until the door shuts you can sense that something incredible has taken place.
John Ford is probably always going to be remembered as the greatest American director to ever live, no one else will ever match him in terms of originality or shear brilliance. His movies all show something grand and unforgettable. I feel that The Searchers really brings all of his strengths to one place; great storytelling, characters, and visuals. There really hasn’t been many movies to capture beauty like this does. Some of the shots are almost unbelievable and certainly unforgettable.
I don’t think anyone can truly deny this movie’s impact on the history of film. It defines why people make movies to begin with, very few capture utter brilliance like this. Not only is this a flawless film from a visual standpoint, it has a story and characters to rival anything else. In many ways it resembles human nature and our ability to change and witness love.