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The movie Stagecoach directed by John Ford belongs to the Western genre. The director puts the main characters in an existential situation in which each of them reveals his or her true personal potential. In this movie, the events unfold rather quickly, which keeps the viewer in constant suspense. The purpose of this paper is to review this film directed by John Ford.
General Description and Plot
The action takes place at the end of the 19th century. Buck prepares for a trip to Lordsburg and receives news that the leader of Apaches has raised a riot. Buck asks Marshal Curly Wilcox to accompany him on this hard road and warns his fellow travelers that they might get hurt if they come with him. However, they decide to travel altogether, and Lucy (the officer’s pregnant wife), Hatfield (a gambler), Boone (a doctor who suffers from alcoholism), Samuel (a liquor dealer), and Dallas (who used to work as a prostitute) join the trip (“Stagecoach”). Another traveler is Ringo whom Curley must put in prison. Their journey is difficult because the life of each hero is endangered by the attack of Apaches; however, the way each character behaves in a stressful situation most clearly reveals their identity.
The plot exhibits clear masculine and feminine images of the characters. Some heroes personify the pillars of society and the generally accepted values such as Puritan morality while other heroes denude the vices inherent in society such as alcoholism, prostitution, robbery, and so on. Nevertheless, each of the characters transforms, and their value system prevails over their social position. In particular, Dallas shows high moral principles in a difficult situation while a criminal who must be imprisoned becomes a fighter for justice (“Stagecoach”). Boone suffering from alcoholism fulfills his duty to the fullest degree when it is necessary. At the same time, the banker who feels superior to other heroes because of his social status turns out to be a thief (“Stagecoach”). It is crucial to note that these contrasting types have been chosen to represent different social strata of society. The director puts them in the conditions in which they are united to overcome the dangers and barriers, thus, balancing their status with identity.
The views of contrasting conditions help to strengthen the effect of events. In particular, the film shows the immensity of the Monument Valley, which the viewer can enjoy, and then the scenery is replaced with narrow spaces. For instance, the saloon, the places where the main characters stop, the carriage in which they travel are shown as narrow and confined (“Stagecoach”). During such scenes, the viewer can experience the claustrophobic atmosphere, which enhances the tension. This technique also made it possible to emphasize the very incident in which the main characters found themselves.
Interestingly, the film allows the viewer to comprehend the way the Wild West conquest was perceived at that time. The film portrays the indigenous population as savages who are reluctant to accept civilization and threaten the security of colonists. The Indians are shown as an abstract evil bringing violence and destruction (“Stagecoach”). It allows assuming that the indigenous people were regarded as a barrier between the East and the West of the country. Importantly, it took the population decades to understand that these people were protecting themselves and fighting for their cultural identity.
Thus, it can be concluded that the movie Stagecoach is one of the classic works of cinematography. It has an exciting plot, which both entertains the audience and holds them in suspense. However, it also exhibits social stratification and the possible stigmatization and stereotyping connected to it. Moreover, the movie has cultural value for the contemporary viewer since it vividly displays the way the Indigenous population has been perceived at that time.
“Stagecoach.” YouTube, Web.