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Jim Douglas has been relentlessly pursuing the four outlaws who murdered his wife, but finds them in jail about to be hanged. While he waits to witness their execution, they escape; and the townspeople enlist Douglas' aid to recapture them. Written by
David Levene <D.S.Levene@durham.ac.uk>
"Los Bravados" proves that Henry King totally mastered the western style among many others.Much more interesting than his precedent effort "the sun also rises",this work casts Peck as a desperate man eager to take revenge of four outlaws who killed and raped his wife. he arrives in the town where the criminals -or rather the men he thinks are the criminals- are to be hanged.
The first thirty minutes are the more convincing.The soundtrack is particularly remarkable:first we hear the hammers of the men building the scaffold;often there's no music at all and this ominous noise creates an agonizing atmosphere.Then ,later,the whole congregation attends the service in a baroque church and the canticles provides the movie with an even more sinister soundtrack.The editing shows in parallel the outlaws' escape and the people praying in the church where Peck gazes upon a madonna and her child:this picture will frequently come back in the movie as a leitmotiv:it's the image of forgiveness.
Because what makes this western worthwhile is the absurdity of the vengeance it depicts.Once a victim,the hero becomes a criminal.But as the priest says ,a lot of people kill and they do not feel any remorse. King's obsession seems to be the reconstruction of the family as well:Peck and his little girl with Collins ,and the half-breed who succeeded in convincing him that he's not responsible for his misfortune.And anyway ,for this director whose body of work stretches on 50 years ,forgiveness and love are many-splendored things.
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