The main character played by John Wayne is a bit of a racist. He calls the guy he works with a half-breed and a blanket head. If you're a woman taken by the Native Americans, then they probably want to shoot you, because you've been ruined. I think the rhyme is "Once you go native, we'll leave you vegetative."
A film where the desert southwest and its tribal heritage is portrayed as monolithic and monotonous (it's not all Monument Valley, for Christ's sake). Where a life lived as a Comanche is worse than death, according to John Wayne's frustrated, painfully racist, and stale ex-Confederate soldier. It delivers a story long surpassed by the myth of this film's greatness. I'd put dozens of westerns before The Searchers.
More darker than it was supposed to be which comes to the notion when massacre aftermaths or taboo subjects, such as hatred based on principle, aren't fully shown or even shown at all. As a result, there's influential way of shooting the landscape and interesting relation between two main protagonists with Jeffrey Hunter being the heart of the film - everything else was done by the book; precise and forgettable.
Among Ford's Westerns this one is often referred to as; the one with the most morally complex protagonists; the one in which the relationship with the Indians isn't as easy as good and bad; and one which shies away from stereotypes. Surely an evolution towards such notions can be traced yet only marginally. Still, the movie shows a great use of space, and possesses fantastic first and final frames.
It depicts a Native American tribe as savages. That's true. But it's not white-serving either. The only sympathetic character was Debbie who eventually embraces the Native American culture and is unwillingly taken from "her people" (the Comanche people). All the other whites are repulsive in their way; either dimwits and fools or barbaric racists.
I know it's sacrilegious but I don't think this is a good movie. It has a beautiful look and the narrative is compelling but the performances are unnuanced. They are either too mean or too goofy or too mad. I usually appreciate the Ford actor's basic, strongly expressed emotions but here they seem almost cartoonish.
Extra star added for the beautiful photography. A great film, but idk if its the best western of all time like many tout. Top 10 though. Wayne plays Wayne, and no one really plays that type of character better. The usual Ford players are here and are excellent, like Ward Bond. The plot drags a bit at times, which prevents it from being best ever. Best western is still Once Upon A Time In The West imho.