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Movie Analysis: The Searchers (1956)

3 pages
600 words
George Washington University
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The Searchers is an emotionally complex movie, with hate-ridden quest after the Comanche massacre. It also explores the themes of sexism and racial prejudice. The video also examines an inside psychological disorder of the fiercely independent and crusading man, Ethan, obsessed with hatred and revenge and searches for his nieces Debbie (Natalie Wood) and Lucy Edwards (Pippa Scott) among the savages.

An analysis of "The Searchers.""The Searchers," directed by John Ford in1956 is the most potent and debated movie ever produced. Its impression on the film writing generations of 1960, the 1970s, and 1980s is immeasurable. The stature of this film is growing over decades more than other movies. The film is a thrilling adventure full of humor, action, suspense and has memorable characters. The Searchers film presents the best values an excellent Western should. The movie entails an obsessive quest (Ebert, 2001). The author set The Searchers against the period of change. The Searchers is distinguishable from the other films it is a new approach to portraying the West settlers. The Searchers has the elements of the other movies produced earlier before is, and in the same way, it influences the aspects of the Western films that others create.

The inspiration of the film was the kidnapping of Cynthia Ann Parker, a nine-year-old in 1836 by the Comanche warriors and his uncle James W. Parker spent most his fortune and life in the obsessive search for her. Along with the rescue of Cynthia Ann, the Texas Rangers also rescued Debbie Edwards. The film presented the cases of child abductions in the 19th century. The kidnapping of the ladies shows that the women are the seen as the weak in the society. The feminism theme comes in because for example in the case of Cynthia Ann, and her abduction resulted in her marriage to a War chief which is signifying oppression on the side of women. Many captives, majority being women experienced rape, and those who ran away from the captors could discuss it.

Racism is a central theme in the film. Racism manifests in the traditional attitude that the white settlers had towards the Native Americans. Ford was not the first to examine the theme cinematically, but his description of the harshness towards the Native Americans was astonishing, particularly to the later generations. Some writers such as Robert Ebert wrote, "I think Ford was trying, imperfectly, even nervously, to depict racism that justified genocide." At the heart of the movie, Wayne's performance is angry and vengeful. Since the commencement of his quest, it shows that he has least interest in Debbie's rescue than in the wreaking revenge on the Comanches for slaughtering his brother's family. According to Ford, there is some value to the charge that "the Western inaccurately or fairly portrays the Indian," however, the charge is a wide-ranging generalization, often biased (Ebert, 2001). The Indians did not welcome the white man, and he was not diplomatic. If the whites mistreated him in the films, it is unfortunate that this was a reality in life. The west was full of racial prejudice. When Ethan finally finds his niece, after ten years of search, and finds out that she adapted to the way of life, for example, the language of the captors he intends to kill her which portrays his craziness of racial hatred. The author addresses this madness and the way it played out in the American history as well as in the genre of the western.



Ebert, R. (2001). The searchers. Rev. of the Searchers. Chicago Sun-Times (Chicago, IL), IL, 25.Available at:


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