Tuesday, March 23, 2010
Two Mules/Johnny Guitar
The films Two Mules for Sister Sara and Johnny Guitar both display the revisionist attitude of the mid-1900's, as they switch focus from the alpha male to the "alpha" female, abandoning the traditional portrayal of women. The women's movement was in full swing by the 1970's, and this translated on screen, as women were less of a backdrop and more of a key player. Prior to these two films, women were portrayed as weak and heavily dependent on the men of the town. However, Two Mules for Sister Sara and Johnny Guitar depict women in a different light. Both of the films showcased women as independent and being able to stand on their own two feet. They were much less vulnerable than women in the films that had preceded them. Sister Sara, for example, was a prostitute, who pulled the wool over Hogan's eyes in pretending she was a nun. In Johnny Guitar, the women were prominent figures, both owning land and other developments, thus having much more power and control than women before them had. Because of this, the women were no longer dependent on men. The alpha male cowboy played less of a role than ever before, truly adopting some feminine qualities. In Johnny Guitar, the alpha male falls in love and gives into his emotions. In Two Mules Sara saves Hogan twice, once from being the Indians and once after he is struck by an arrow. She also convinces him to complete his mission, eventually shooting the gun to set off the dynamite because he is too weak to do it himself. It is clear that without Sara, Hogan would have been helpless. Thus, the two films exemplify "otherness" in the sense that the women play key roles; it could be argued that, if anything, the alpha male cowboys are more of "others" than the women in these two films.