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Three outlaws on the run discover a dying woman and her baby. They swear to bring the infant to safety across the desert, even at the risk of their own lives. Written by
Jim Beaver <email@example.com>
Redemption is the keyword to many a Ford work:this is perhaps the most convincing effort in a remarkable career for that matter.Like all the great auteurs,western is only an alibi for Ford to convey a message:God is the only way,the Bible is the only book for Man's education (as Dr Whatsisname's infant care manual for the new human being).
If you do not know anything about the screenplay and you expect a traditional western ,you may be disappointed:actually it might as well be a Xmas tale.Actually ,only the beginning and the ending are what you expect from a western.The central part is Robert's (Wayne) road to Damascus.His two pals do believe in God,he doesn't.The desert and the quest of water are a metaphor for the emptiness of his heart.In the second part of the movie,he's like the baby,busy being born.
Ford's movie is a visual splendor:the three men filmed against the sunlight near the mother's grave;the grave shot in close-up as the three men go away.The desert itself becomes an almost alive entity,filmed with a unique sense of space .Narration avoids readiness:when Wayne meets the mother,Ford does not show the scene:he lets his character tell it to his friends.The mother briefly appears for one short scene but she makes all her words count.
Singing is very important:when the mother is buried ,William sings over his grave but he cannot finish his canticle because he cannot remember the end:thus Ford avoids pathos and melodrama;when he rocks the baby,he sings "streets of Laredo",an ominous choice(but lullabies are sometimes strange and even cruel,aren't they?);the final choir "bringing in the sheaves" signals a brand new life for Robert. Towards the end ,the movie verges on fantastic ,which is extremely rare in the western genre.
Biblical quotations abound,but anyway,they are everywhere in Ford's work from the earlier works (the informer) to the later ones (seven women).
In the eighties,Coline Serreau made a shameless rip -off "trois hommes et un couffin".It wasn't a western ,the action taking place in Paris 1985,but a lot of ideas were taken from Ford .Besides,her three characters were despicable machos:One wishes it had not come from a woman .The movie was such a huge success that the American felt compelled to redo it (three men and a baby).Forget these mediocrities and do watch the Master 's tale of redemption.
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