Sunday, August 05, 2007

SHANE


SHANE (1953, USA)
Ma, I just love Shane. He's so good.

According to movie books, this is the classic western; a mysterious stranger hangs up his guns, but when the bad guys go too far, he's got to decide between his old ways and the new. And to judge by all that's been written in Christian movie books, the title character is practically Jesus on a white horse riding.

So you may be fuddled just a bit when you rent this one and it doesn't look like westerns are supposed to look – that Shane fella sure as shootin' don't look like no cowboy hero to me, ma'am. And unless you're a Christ Figure Hunter ready to find a Jesus symbol in every cross-shaped tree or window frame, I'm not sure Alan Ladd is going to become your image of Jesus any time soon. He may be called on to save the day – most heroes are – but that's a fair sight different than saving the world. I wonder: if director George Stevens hadn't gone on to make The Greatest Story Ever Told a dozen years later, would it have occurred to anybody that this particular buckskinned good guy was actually a stand-in for The Good Guy?

Still, if you find inspiration in stories of good, simple people resisting ruthless and powerful evil – and if you can get past genre expectations of cowboy hats and noisy saloons – this surprisingly low-key film is the touchstone.

PALE RIDER

Available at Videomatica

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