Ethan Edwards, Martin Martin, Debbie discussed on Classic Movie Musts
Horrors. He's seen there's there's another element of that scene that i love and i don't know if this ever happened to you. You're pretty smart guys so you're probably able to articulate everything hits you pretty well but there's sometimes like an image or an idea hits me that i i don't know how to expound on it any further but it just hits me and then idea after <hes> ethan found lucy's body that earlier in the movie he has been shedding these artifacts of his past life in the confederacy that he's given his nephew as sabre that he gives debbie debbie the <unk> the object of importance the medal of courage or whatever it is and the last the last article that he's going to shed the one person who didn't get a gift in that sequences lucy in his last gift to give is the coat from his johnny reb coat that he wraps her naked body to bury her yeah. I mean again again. You're giving me goosebumps. I mean we're not even watching the movie at this point. I've got goosebumps twice in this episode. That's the power of this movie. You're absolutely right but again. I think it's so powerful all you never see these bodies and so so much of this film is driven right by ethan edwards hatred of the native americans his fear as you said of them you know defiling his nieces of taking away kind of that racial purity y- yeah i mean so much of it isn't that fear and so in not seeing the bodies we really we project kind of our worst subconscious feelings of what he might have seen knowing how he feels about the situation and what gets complicated with this movie to me and oh yeah i think you reach a point where you can over think it but this is a man who is so racist at the beginning of this movie and he is a man who never lets anyone else see these bodies that we don't actually know if it's as bad as he ever says it is he projects his worst worst fears and hatreds onto these group of people so for him it's always going to be they did the worst possible thing and we don't don't we don't know that but at the same time in the moment we're watching it. We as you said it's john wayne. We've you know we know who he is. As a star that we are invested in him enough that we we project than a similar feeling of like they did. The worst thing in as you mentioned i mean rape is the ultimate fear that kind of pervades the movie so so that is what we feel and then we feel our own sense of kind of of guilt of of questioning of saying you know all of a sudden you're start to feel these similar miller like racist feelings and it's it becomes a very complicated cycle and i think all of that is achieved by as you mentioned mentioned that restraint of knowing when to cut that we never see these bodies. I think it's extremely powerful so good <hes> but one thing i we'll give this movie credit for and the thing that i think lends it. It's still legendary. Status to this. Day is the ways in which it breaks down that us versus them dichotomy. It's not just cowboys and indians and you know i the searchers still a pretty one sided definitely on the side of these two guys trying to find their white eight sisters slashing east rescuing her from native americans but we do at least gets when we finally get to meet chief scar <hes> this this this pretty succinct little sequence that i still think is very telling of his character that he lays out. I've lost two sons in rates and you see his people very similar to these homesteaders. They move from place to place doesn't john wayne say like mean to go one way or another. They have no home they wander in the in the desert hazard and dig out there living whatever way they can and there's even a nice symmetry to <hes> the the rate on the homestead which is magnificently realized sequence with those beautiful like blood red lights on the studio atma going on in the cabinet. It's such a great moment but i think you have a mirror image of that moment towards the end when martin is trying to sneak into the camp camp to get debbie out before ethan and clayton are gonna lead the rangers on a raid that scar is kind of out walking around and guarding his village and you have that same sense that you the homestead of there's something out there. That's coming in to destroy my family's way of living it's slight but it's there and i think that that is pretty impressive impressive for asia. That has a lot of claims of racism bandied against it. I i love that i mean this is a movie that thrives on those symmetry as of composition of theme and i had never even considered that but you're absolutely right that scar going out of his out of his t._v. At night to kind of survey the sense that that there's something wrong it completely mirrors the scene early on at the homestead. You're absolutely right and vami. I hadn't even thought about it. I love of that but i mean so you mentioned this symmetry and i think symmetry as well. It pervades right. I mean we have so many visual cemeteries and you mentioned also that we the film is on the side of the white homesteaders and i think in part of that and one of the one of the other kind of layered nuances of the film right is that you have martin paulie he he was a real. He's i think it's one eighth cherokee at the beginning <hes> but he was taken in by the whites and raised and he has is this kind of neither in nor out i mean he's pretty well accepted by everyone except ethan but he has that mixed race identity identify that kind of questions but he was raised and it's kind of viewed as this benefit right and at the same time we have the flip side of of it which is that debbie is taken in by the tribe and she is raised not that dissimilar -ly from martin pauley the and brought up but the film and film complicates right of course when she says i don't wanna leave these are my people and the film never really never gives toys in that agency to really accept that decision but the film never addresses the idea that she might very well be happy there <hes> <hes> it's you know it's pretty clearly implied by the end when she's older that she is now like scars. One of scars wives she. The worst worst has happened in front for ethan's mine. She is no longer a young girl. She is quite strikingly. Beautiful now played by natalie wood. She is of age so you can can assume the worst has happened and she doesn't at first meeting seem unhappy with her situation. Of course when martin does come in at the end she is ready to go. Oh and more than happy to leave but you know you have these interesting kind of double standards but interesting symmetry is right. I mean we can assume that she's married to scar and the film has no problem really just erasing that marriage and then at the same time you know martin pauley takes wife by mistake and that kind of gets erased in its own ways. I mean like you have these very interesting. I think symmetry between between debbie and martin and their experiences and why martin is for the better so can you know so concerned with trying to help debbie. I'm so glad that you brought up look 'cause that. Sequences is troubling in its own way because so much of it is played for laughs right down to the actresses appearance you you know being slightly more heavyset easier to laugh at but that section is so complicated because i think that that section makes ethan edwards character a little more varied and complex because you're right if we have the the cross between debbie being raised by these commands and martin being raised by on the edwards edwards family he ethan edwards is pretty okay with having look around and it's never really clear if that's because he just loves how much it embarrasses martin martin that he's married this woman by accident or if it's okay if a white person steals a native american to raise their own but it's not okay if our women are stolen by native americans but there's also a lot of tenderness. They're like no no single native american character. I ah i think in almost any western of this era even not even just this movie. I don't think any single native american character gets the solemn sendoff that look does that even if she's unceremoniously kicked down the hill in what amounts to a very cheap laugh that doesn't play today. It's still really gets me when john wayne kneels down next to her in that t._b. Ep and covers her up with the blanket. You're absolutely right. Gets me too and i and then i love martin's. You know admitting that you know we don't know was he. Was she going to run away or was she going to help. Try and get information like you just don't know and she is treated tenderly and you mentioned also that right. I mean he's he's kind of okay with look being around it also kind of ethan edwards being complex character that he is you know it's never sure we never get the sense that ethan has any problem with martin's romantic interest in laurie and vice versa right as much as he doesn't you know as much as he's he's kind of resistant to martin early on and by the end of the film. It's clear that martin and laurie going to get married. We never get the sense that he's like against that interracial marriage nor against the interracial marriage with look. I mean like and it kind of goes to the point where ethan he is racist completely undeniably but what makes him so. He's so much more adaptable than everyone else i mean. He is the only character character right that speaks every language of whoever he speaks the native american languages he speaks spanish. He's in in the latter half of this movie. He's wearing a sombrero instead of your typical. You know cowboy hat which john wayne come on. That's like unheard of right you know he he has these feelings he also has that ability to kind of mix <hes> a very interesting way that seems at odds but at the same time this is a very adaptable survivable man and even his his knowledge the culture lends sort of what we would call progressive racism that there's such a thing as being too positive about another culture or race because i think two there's more despicable moments are because of the knowledge he has of the culture <hes> the the speech that he makes when brad martin in ethan or or walk in the <hes> horses and brad is complaining like they have to stop. If there any kind of human men they have to stop and ethan has that speech about they're not human a human will take a horse and in writing until it dies and then he'll walk commanche will pick up that horse right at twenty more miles and then he'll eat it right and it's like that's an insult assault bragg. You know like he's saying like they're really something else but they're not human and all that leads up to of course what i think is probably the most despicable like hardest hitting moment of racism in the movie when they stumbled upon the body of the fallen warrior and <hes> brad is throws the rock on the body to crush out of anger anyth- insists will i don't finish the job job shoots as is out the has he knows that the native americans believe he knows that if they don't have is they wander the spirit world forever for loss they can enter the afterlife and then that's that's like one of the most spiteful moments in american cinema. I think you're absolutely right. I mean he is literally just defiling the body of the dead just in the hope of spiritual vengeance which she i mean it doesn't get much much lower than that. Which is which is another fantastic theme dichotomy that movies exploring again between old and young in the past future love and hate art such strong forces here and the movie is acknowledging because the movie isn't really a rescue story. It's really a revenge story and in fact that's what makes you know the the flip turn of ethan just just picking up debbie and saying oh. Let's go home work so well is because what he was really there for was to get scar scars..