REPRESENTATIONS IN JOHN FORDS "THE SEARCHERS"
In the film, 'The Searches', originally written as a novel by Alan Le May, John Ford (director) explores the themes incest and miscegenation. In the film, John Ford, uses stereotypes to construct his plot and create his characters. The main characters in the film, being Ethan, Martin, Scar, Look and Debbie are all shaped by white American stereotypes of the 1950's.
Ethan, a respected war veteran, is represented as a wise but shifty character, (e. g. the freshly minted coins), the silent and mostly outspoken character is proteid in a way that he is a good person but is on the run.
He is not proteid as being solely evil, like the Indians, but has just made an error and wishes to rectify it, for e. g. Ethan says he wants to sign up to the rangers but refuses to say the oath, this shows two things; he wants to make up for what he has done, and that he is not ready to say he is innocent. Ethan is a white American male who is represented as a good man, gone bad, come good again, so to speak.
During supper, Aaron's adopted son, part-Cherokee (one-eighth) Martin "Marty." Martin leaps off his horse, and bursts into the doorway to meet Ethan, his uncle. At this meet we find out that Ethan is highly Prejudice towards Indians, or 'savages' as he calls them, Ethan is the centre and source of hatred towards Indians in the movie. Martin is the equilibrium to this hate, he is the directors answer to the question; "there must be some good Indians"; they show that the only good Indian is one that is 1/8 th white, this again reinforcing the prejudice and racism shown towards the Indians in white American film of that era. The young 10 year old Debbie is the innocence in the film, she is a young white girl, need I say more? However innocent the character is she is still used to reinforce the audiences hatred towards the Indians, the first shot of we of a full grown, muscular, shirtless male covered in body paint standing over Debby while she is outside and alone.
Using a low camera angle and with the Indian put on the right of the frame; cinematography is used to help reinforce this hatred. The Indians then, being partied as evil, kill Ethan's entire family, and kidnap his niece (what could be worse than a mass murderer? Alan Le May answer; a paedophile). However as the film progresses into, what it is named after, Martin and Ethan's's earch for Debbie we find that our white hero has a fatal flaw, his uncontrollable blind hate for Indians, could the white guy fall too the 'savages' level? Surely not. In today's society prejudice and blind hatred does exists and again is pushed to extreme levels by Hollywood and the Media. However today's society the hatred is against nations such as; Iraq and Afghanistan; wherever George Bush decides the western world will hate next. The world's racial prejudice and blind is extremely similar to this movie / novel written some 50 years prior.
Currently the words hatred is focussed towards one man and his 'army', being Saddam Hussein and the imperial Guard, and in the movie Scar and the 'savage' Indians. In the Movie the centre hatred of hatred was one man; Ethan; and today; George Bush; and both these men's hatred is reinforced by a massacre. Racial Prejudice and blind hatred is very prominent in today's society and is very similar to the style presented in Alan Le May's and John Ford's masterpiece 'The Searchers'.