Tuesday, September 14, 2010

John Ford: The Significance of Being Alone

Ok, Tony weighed in on faith, so I guess I should post something on film....

John Ford is by far one of the greatest directors of all time. Beginning in the silent film era and extended into the 1960's, Ford churned out over a hundred films. His favorite actors included the likes of John Wayne, Henry Fonda, and Maureen O'Hara. You could literally watch his movies and find great topics of thought and discussion for years, so for the sake of space and simplicity (I'm all kinds of simple), I'll take one theme and start from there....

Ford excelled at portraying the beauty and pitfalls of being alone. The rugged individual who despises needing anyone is the hero in countless Ford films. The American ideal of a self made man conquering his own world of wilderness is set across various backdrops, genres, and time frames. The detachment and loneliness pours off the screen in Ford's "Rio Grande" starring John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara. They play a still married couple separated by war, duty, and now a grown son (they have differing opinions as to what his future should look like). Their love for each other is clearly evident, but the unspoken space between them seems impossibly vast. My Ford favorite, "The Searchers" ends with one of the greatest scenes of isolation in film history as Wayne's character, Ethan, having fought to bring home his kidnapped niece to bring a family back together and to begin healing, is left alone to walk off into the distance of Monument Valley. He walks away slowly and with purpose, and you can't help but feel the contrast of the joy of home and the duty he feels to be separated from it.

I could go on all day, but I recommend grabbing a Ford film and embracing the beautiful cinematography and haunting loneliness for yourself....

Elite: (the absolute best must see movies)
The Searchers

Essential: (great movies that are well worth your times)
The calvary trilogy (Rio Grande, She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, Fort Apache)
The Quiet Man
Stage Coach
How Green Was My Valley

Recommended: (for the committed movie viewer who wants a deeper look at Ford)
The Grapes of Wrath
They Were Expendable
Horse Soldiers

1 comment:

  1. I like this post. I've never seen any of those movies, though.