Silverado is a 1985 Western film directed by Lawrence Kasdan and starring Kevin Costner, Scott Glenn, Kevin Kline, and Danny Glover. It portrays the story of four friends who come to a town named Silverado in an attempt to solve their personal problems.
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The story begins when Emmett is attacked by three thugs while sleeping in a hut. He kills all of the attackers and sets out on a journey through the desert, where he finds Paden, who had been robbed off his horse and all belongings. While making a stop in a small town, the two meet Mal, a black man who is driven out of town by the sheriff after being attacked by three white men at a saloon.
The final member of the group is Kevin, Emmett’s brother who is due to be hanged for killing a man in self-defense. Upon reaching Silverado, the four men realize that their families and the entire town are threatened by ranchers, led by McKendrick. Despite their initial intention to part ways upon reaching Silverado, the group reunites to fight McKendrick and his men. In the final fight, the characters manage to resolve their personal problems, as well as establish the safety of the entire town.
Key Points and Critical Analysis
The film offers an interesting take on friendship, suggesting that the main characters only bond with one another because of a common goal. Initially, it is the escape from prison and the journey to Silverado that binds the four men together, which is why the men part ways upon reaching the town. However, as they discover the problems threatening their families and the town, they have to join forces to achieve a common goal of defeating injustice. The circumstantial nature of the characters’ friendship suggests that they are always in pursuit of something new and are thus incapable of maintaining a long-term relationship.
Racism is also quite prominent in the film. For example, the first appearance of Mal offers the first insight into racist attitudes of the time. Not only does the owner of the saloon refuse to serve Mal; three visitors attack him and face no charges for their actions, whereas Mal is requested to leave town. Further in the film, two more black characters appear: Mal’s father and sister. Both of the characters have barely any voice or control over their life. Mal’s father is unable to fight the ranchers and protect his land, whereas his sister cannot escape Slick. Comparing to white people, Mal and his relatives have less freedom and rights; the misfortunes they experience thus add to the exploration of racism in the film.
Justice and Revenge
The themes of revenge and justice are also strongly present in the film. One fascinating aspect of the film is that they are often interconnected. The characters’ vendetta is perceived as the execution of justice. However, this is not due to their positive image; rather, the character’s enemies are portrayed in a way that makes their deaths appear just. For instance, McKendrick is not only Emmett’s personal enemy but a threat to the entire town. Cobb, on the other hand, is not just an old acquaintance who offends Paden; he is a faulty sheriff paid by McKendrick to cover up the ranchers. Thus, the death of these characters brings relief to the entire town as well as to the four characters.
Overall, Silverado is a compelling and somewhat light-hearted film that offers an unusual perspective on the topics of justice and friendship. It also touches upon the themes of revenge and racism, which drive character development and add more depth to the story. The film ends on a high note, with justice restored and each of the friends finding a new personal goal, leaving the audience to wonder if there will be a time in the future when the group has to come together again.
Silverado. Directed by Lawrence Kasdan, performances by Kevin Costner, Scott Glenn, Kevin Kline, and Danny Glover, Columbia Pictures, 1985.