The Japanese ambassador is traveling through the Wild West by train, when gangsters hold up the train, to rob a gold shipment. They also carry an ancient Japanese sword the ambassador was ... See full summary »
A stranger rides out of the hot desert into a small town in the wild west. The towns people are scared of him, and 3 gunmen try, unsuccessfully, to kill him. He takes a room and decides to stay. Meanwhile, a group of outlaws are about to return to the town and take their revenge - will the towns leaders convince the mysterious man to help ? Written by
Colin Tinto <email@example.com>
High Plains Drifter looks and feels like a deconstruction of the language of the Western.
A brilliant mix of psychological and macabre, and in places even quite bizarre, it is an investigation of what is created when weakness and desire meet the man driven half to madness (Eastwood) yet seems sane: he is pathological, but is he the only standard of true sanity as a protagonist here? Has he truly lost all sense of ethic?
He starts here as the archetype of antiutilitariansim: nothing he does is for anyone's benefit if it costs him a moment of care. He is cold, brutal, effective. Yet behind this there is a sense that he has a twisted right on his side. Having being so wronged his revenge is more complex than simply killing: it demands retribution, and retribution demands the whole town pays.
More existential than even Once upon A time in the West, or, the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly it is about the nihilism and the circle of violence that must be closed.
The filming is supremely confident for a second film: real silences and pauses, laugh out loud lines and situations and cold, cold chills: the language of film is expressed explicitly and implicitly. This is the death knell of the Good vs. Bad traditional Western: it is more like Kurosawa's Yojimbo though here the bad guys are few and the townsfolk are by implication as guilty as the rest because they let evil thrive and let it break a good man.
Never answering it's own questions: like Lago itself it is a world created in isolation and as such is a unique and powerful testament to Eastwood's continuing expression of the darker psyche of the cost of opening up the cowboy image and getting to a colder, starker, realism that defined 70s films.
Compulsive viewing and an important film.
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