Kind of an Ur-Western, reduced to the fundamentals of Main Street, saloon, homestead, abandoned wife, burning sun, the endless trail. But I think it's really about hardened frontierspeople learning to love and express love again. Which is cool, 'cos I can admit I love Warren Oates.
2,5 stars. A man cuts-off from his family for the sake of adventure and stays away for seven years. Fed-up with wandering around, he returns; expecting from his wife, as if nothing had happened. A drama about a marriage transplanted into the Wild West. Rare, short dialogues, very slow, couple of hangovers, disturbing and unnecessary cross-fadings of camera. Beautiful landscape pictures, however, this is not enough.
(viewed ~ Sep 2010) A pal called HH "the only true example of an ambient western" -- a 100% accurate description that didn't prepare me for the visual/emotional feast. Fonda's cowboy is a dissthentic wisp torn 'tween a homely wife and range life; but Fonda the director is godlike. He lets there be light; light patiently forms images; images, paralleled by Langhorne's sonic creationism, form a world; & it was good.
Agree with the Flying Dutchman below and I was guilty of neglecting htis one until this afternoon. For a 90-min film, it moves at a very labored pace, but it works. Langhorne's score is as perfect as a score gets for a western. And that final scene, of the horses coming it, set to Langhorne's music, is incredible. Definite must-see western.