Thursday, January 28, 2010
Due to the significant connection between character and landscape, it seems only befitting, that only the landscape can open up the heart of the hero, giving him an emotional dimension. . What I am referring to is when Ethan finds Debbie, he is set to kill her for revenge. Debbie slides down the hill, and he runs after her determination seared into his eyes. But then grabs her and hugs her, all his revenge gone, and all his emotions evident. This is due to the openess of the desert, the desert as I have mentioned earlier can hold no secrets, its vast oppeness makes a person open up fom the inside, understanding the fact that they are only a small part of the world, thus they accept what they are, and what they feel, which is why only in the desert can a man bethrottled in a murderous rampage change pace and become a loving uncle. That is only because the desert has enough space, to hold every human emotion possible.
After the seemingly endless search for Debbie, Ethan and Martin discover that she is hardly the nine year old girl they once knew. She has adopted the Comanche way of life as her own. While Martin remains determined to bring her home, Ethan remains true to the characteristics of the desert and disregards any emotion in the pursuit of revenge. However, when Ethan has the opportunity to kill her, he turns against the hardness of the desert, revealing the real the value of The Searchers, for Ethan finally understands that the desert is not only a hard, dry, infinite plain, but as Tompkins explains "The hero's passage across the landscape has ultimately a domesticating effect. Though it begins in anxious movement and passes through terror and pain, it continually ends in repose. A welcoming grove of aspens, a spring, and a patch of grass probide shelter and sustenance... If nature's wildness and hardness test his strength and will and intelligence, they also give him solace and refreshment (81)." The Searchers uses this moment of vulnerability to convey the other side of the desert and the hero, Ethan.
Much like the characteristic cowboy, "he was as merciless as the frontier that bred him" (73). Ethan was relentless in his search for the Comanche tribe. He was intent on finding his niece, with or without the help of the others. Though months passed without solid leads, Ethan continued his search for Debbie. He was not phased by blizzards, or scorching heat. Tompkins writes that "if nature's wildness and hardness test his strength and will and intelligence, they also give him solace and refreshment" (81). Ethan does not belong sheltered up within the confines of a home. He seeks the openness and barrenness that the desert offers him. And after returning Debbie to her home at last, he rides out back into the desert, a land of endless possibilities.
Tompkins also writes, "The single most important relationship they have is to the land" (Tompkins 78). The viewer knows that all that stands between Ethan and his goal is the land (and the American Indians, although it is made evident in context that the white man is superior in the film through the protagonist's demeanor). Therefore, it is the land that stands alone as the most important single element in the film.
Finally, when the heroes get back to town, the viewer knows the story is wrapped up. Tompkins says, "Town is a mecca, a haven, a journey's end" (Tompkins 86). Upon arrival, the viewer knows immediately that everything is going to work out and there will be a happy ending, and of course, there is. The symbolic use of symbolism in the landscape of The Searchers makes the tale not just a simple story, but a complex experience.
Jane Tompkins states that “The blankness of the plains implies-without ever stating-that this is a field where a certain kind of mastery is possible, where a person (of a certain kind) can remain alone and complete and in control of himself, while controlling the external world trough physical strength and force of will.”
There are many instances when we can relate the above statement stated by Tompkins to the movie “Searcher”. In the movie there are several time when the Captain (Reven) and Ethan have different opinion and all the people with them follow the Captain, but Ethan is of the view that he does not need anyone along with him. Any time he is ready to go alone, he does not require anyone’s company. He always went on doing what he thought he should do and did not wait back just because someone was not coming along. Also, the physical that Tompkins talks about, is very well portrayed by Ethan whenever required. He is ready to fight if anyone comes in his way, at that time he sees no bonds. It is just himself and his goal
We can say that Ethan had attained the mastery that Tompkins is talking about that a person can remain alone and control his life.
When discussing a cowboy and the desert, Tompkins states that “the single most important relationship [he has] is to the land. They are in constant contact with it – thinking about it, using it, enjoying it, fearing it, seeing it, smelling it, touching it, hearing it.” The desert is uncivilized, and as a result, the cowboy is, for the most part, on his own. He learns to survive in the extreme conditions by mimicking them, becoming one with the desert. In The Searchers, Ethan, the hero, is a cowboy who returns to his sister’s home after being alone in the desert for many years. He has characteristics that Tompkins uses to describe the desert: powerful, controlling, hard, unforgiving and hostile. Ethan is powerful and controlling when he leads a search group to find his niece, during which he is unforgiving to the Indians for what they have done to his family and he is hostile with them and anyone who stands in his way of rescuing his niece. The desert is a lonely place and Ethan, after returning his niece to the Jorgensens’ ranch, Ethan leaves and the ranch door closes on him. This shows that he is disconnected from society and belongs with the desert.
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
The men who survive the conditions of the West appear to be a product of their environment. In the film, John Wayne appears to be just as tough and unforgiving as the ground he walks on. One instance of this is when he considers killing his niece so she doesn't have to live her life as a member of the Indian tribe. John Wayne has a personality that is as dry as the land. It is very rare to find a scene where he smiles, which shows the extent of his focus on finding his niece. The only emotions that show through him are anger and determination, which is a result from constantly enduring the challenges of the West.