Sunday, August 05, 2007
PALE RIDER (1985, USA, Clint Eastwood, Michael Butler / Dennis Shryack screenplay)
And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. Revelation 6:8
It's a revved-up Shane, with all the religion brought right to the surface. Mining company bad guys terrorize the settlers and shoot young Megan Wheeler's dog. At the graveside of her pet, the impossibly gorgeous 14-year-old breaks off from reciting the 23rd Psalm to plead with God, "We need more than comfort. We need a miracle." Apparently the prayer of a righteous babe availeth much, because next thing you know, guess who rides into town? "The Preacher," reluctant vengeance incarnate, High Plains Drifter in a clerical collar. Any biblical references viewers may read into the classic Shane – whose blueprint this film consciously follows – are explicit here. But the thin line between archetype and stereotype gets overstepped here, and I think director Clint wanted to be more spiritual and substantial than he achieved here. Seven years later in Unforgiven he was able to go much deeper into the tensions between justice and vengeance in a film less explicitly religious but far more spiritually significant. Still, it's fun to play "spot the references" – I'll leave it to you to decide if the movie's contradictions between spirit and flesh are complexities or just confusions. If you enjoy a good shoot 'em up with aspirations to be something more, this one can be a lot of fun.
Available at Videomatica