I saw the new Magnificent Seven on Tuesday; it was a lot of fun. Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, and Ethan Hawke acted wonderfully, and the other actors also did a great job. Since then, I’ve spent my days wondering why I’m studying law when I could go out and become a gunfighter. Unfortunately, I don’t believe gunfighters are in too much demand anymore, and, what’s more, come off rather illegally. So, with that sad thought in mind, I’ve distracted myself by reading about all the old cowboy movies I have watched, and re-reading the rules for Boot Hill, which is how I come now to Shane. I trust all of you have watched it; if you haven’t, then you should immediately go and watch it, as it is one of those classic movies everyone should see.
Anyway, the plot of Shane is that a mysterious man, clearly a gunfighter, drifts through a newly-settled territory, and takes up with a family attempting to start a farm. Unfortunately for them, the local rancher, who has driven his cattle along these plains for years, wants the land, and hires a gunfighter and attempts to drive them off the ranch. One thing leads to another, and, eventually, Shane rides into town to fight the rancher, his gunfighter, and the few men with him.
Now, Shane is not an amazing movie. I know this may seem harsh, but, frankly, it drags on a bit much; it should really have had many parts cut out. But then again, I suppose, that is the price movies must pay for having been made during the 50s! Nevertheless, it builds a good story, and one is enthralled by watching how the conflict between the new farmers and the rancher comes closer and closer to confrontation, until, in the end, the rancher burns the land and kills some of them. The real thing, though, holding one’s interest in, is Shane; the viewer is allowed to see his refusal to give in to the rancher, and the tension within, whether to pick up his gun one more time and finish the problem, or just leave and go out East as he intended originally. In the end, as I’m sure you guessed, Shane decides to pick up the gun, and rides into town to meet the rancher and his hired gun in the saloon. This gunfight is over in less than a minute, but it is the only major gunfight of the whole movie, and the tension builds up well, till at last one sees just how fast Shane really is, and hears his revolver roar (sounding, like most hero’s guns in 50s movies, like an artillery gun, really…). The end is also brilliant, watching Shane ride off into the distance, slumped over his horse, leaving behind the child and the family.
For all these great points, as I said, the movie suffers from being a 50s movie. If you’re not sure what I mean, then go and watch it, and I believe you’ll understand. From Shane’s punches having the power of He-Man, to the seemingly-endless scene of Shane riding into town, with the incredibly frustrating child running behind; it suffers. Nevertheless, it is shot well, and the whole movie works together to create a Western classic, which should be watched by all. The final gunfight has the great scene before, where Shane tells the rancher that it is all over; cattle barons and gunfighters are both relics of the Old West, and there is no place for them in the new word. It is heartbreaking, seeing Shane say that, the amazing gunfighter who is left alone, with no place to go as his world ends. That is, really, the true pathos of Shane: the ending of a world, and how Shane struggles to fit in and put his life behind him, but must once more turn to his guns to finish the problem, and leave, knowing he has no place in the new world the farmers have made. There are some other great scenes here; when Shane leaves, telling the child to inform his mother that “there are no more guns in the valley.” It is brilliant.
Plus, this was one of the first movies to tie actors with a wire, and then pull them back when they were ‘shot’ to create the realistic throw. So that’s another reason to watch! Anyway, those above are some points about the movie; it is great, a solid movie, despite its flaws, and one which all should watch. And the new Magnificent Seven. And Last Train to Gun Hill. And 3:10 to Yuma. And High Noon. And so on…