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the macguffin in john ford's "the searchers".


MadaBidyoni
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Hi

i'm looking for info about the macguffin in john ford's "the searchers".

i know it's debbie... but i need more info. its symbolic function, its narrative function...

thanks

Almost all John Ford films have one important connection: the importance of home and family.  The loss/destruction of home/family is the worst thing that can happen to you in a Ford film. Sometimes, it even means small things connected with home: Ma Joad's having to go through her stuff in that gorgeous silent scene in The Grapes of Wrath; In My Darling Clementine, Doc Holiday's girl visiting his room, when she arrives -- the objects in the room take on an almost religious significance. Maureen O'Hara "things" i.e. furniture which are so important to her in The Quiet Man. The destruction of the house in Drums Along the Mohawk.  The Searchers involves the loss, and reclamation to some extent, of home and family. I assume that's the macguffin, or at any rate connected with it.

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Almost all John Ford films have one important connection: the importance of home and family.  The loss/destruction of home/family is the worst thing that can happen to you in a Ford film. Sometimes, it even means small things connected with home: Ma Joad's having to go through her stuff in that gorgeous silent scene in The Grapes of Wrath; In My Darling Clementine, Doc Holiday's girl visiting his room, when she arrives -- the objects in the room take on an almost religious significance. Maureen O'Hara "things" i.e. furniture which are so important to her. The destruction of the house in Drums Along the Mohawk.  The Searchers involves the loss, and reclamation to some extent, of home and family. I assume that's the macguffin, or at any rate connected with it.

 

But what was the mission related to what the searcher were searching for?   For one it was to bring back the girl.   For the other it was to not bring her back once he found out she was soiled.

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But what was the mission related to what the searcher were searching for?   For one it was to bring back the girl.   For the other it was to not bring her back once he found out she was soiled.

Well, I haven't seen the movie in a very long time, so I don't remember all the details.  I was just trying to point out a few things to a (possibly) young person who asked a question, which wasn't met with much kindness.

 

But the loss of the girl is related to all those Ford themes -- destroying home/family is the worst!  Here's an interesting article about the film, not necessarily related to my point:

 

http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/the_dilettante/2006/07/the_worst_best_movie.html

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Well, I haven't seen the movie in a very long time, so I don't remember all the details.  I was just trying to point out a few things to a (possibly) young person who asked a question, which wasn't met with much kindness.

 

But the loss of the girl is related to all those Ford themes -- destroying home/family is the worst!  Here's an interesting article about the film, not necessarily related to my point:

 

http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/the_dilettante/2006/07/the_worst_best_movie.html

 

I do agree that the loss of the girl is related to those Ford themes.   That is why I find The Searcher one of Ford's best movies.  Here the Wayne character starts out wanting to find the girl but ends up wanting to kill her because contact with the Indians destroyed her (from the character's POV).

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I do agree that the loss of the girl is related to those Ford themes.   That is why I find The Searcher one of Ford's best movies.  Here the Wayne character starts out wanting to find the girl but ends up wanting to kill her because contact with the Indians destroyed her (from the character's POV).

The article I posted the link for -- which I've only just read -- refers to Wayne's character's racism. I don't remember enough about that part of the film; though I guess if the Indians represent a perceived threat to home and family, as they do in Drums Along the Mohawk, that fits in with Ford's theme.

 

(Slightly O.T.: I wonder how much this film relates to themes in O'Neill's Mourning Becomes Electra and Melville's Typee, the former in conjunction with the song "Shenandoah," and the latter with the Hawaiian Islands.) 

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The article I posted the link for -- which I've only just read -- refers to Wayne's character's racism. I don't remember enough about that part of the film; though I guess if the Indians represent a perceived threat to home and family, as they do in Drums Along the Mohawk, that fits in with Ford's theme.

 

(Slightly O.T.: I wonder how much this film relates to themes in O'Neill's Mourning Becomes Electra and Melville's Typee, the former in conjunction with the song "Shenandoah," and the latter with the Hawaiian Islands.) 

 

The character was so racist that since the race he hated had violated his kin he was willing to kill his kin.  This is what I meant by my reference to the Indians soiled her.   Yea,  hating Indians because they are a threat to home and family is one thing,  but killing one's own because they, against their will,  associated with Indians is a mental illiness.

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I do agree that the loss of the girl is related to those Ford themes.   That is why I find The Searcher one of Ford's best movies.  Here the Wayne character starts out wanting to find the girl but ends up wanting to kill her because contact with the Indians destroyed her (from the character's POV).

 

Actually, he ends up wanting to save her, and he did save her, and he was the only person in that entire cast who kept searching and searching until he did it.

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The character was so racist that since the race he hated had violated his kin he was willing to kill his kin.  This is what I meant by my reference to the Indians soiled her.   Yea,  hating Indians because they are a threat to home and family is one thing,  but killing one's own because they, against their will,  associated with Indians is a mental illiness.

 

He didn't kill any Indians except from Scar's crazy brutal "terrorist" band of Nawyeka Comanches, and they were the ones who killed Aunt Martha, Ethan's brother, and his niece Lucy. And Ethan's own mother's name is on a tombstone in the family cemetery, with a note that Comanches had killed her.

 

Ethan was quite friendly with the Navajos and even did some trading with them and he felt bad when he discovered that the soldiers had killed Look (Martin's Indian Wife).

 

The white girls in the guardhouse at the fort, the ones who had gone crazy, had gone crazy because of the years of multiple rapes and sexual abuse by Scar's band. That, and the murders of his family members, is why Ethan hated Scar's band, and you would hate them too if they did that to your family.

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Actually, he ends up wanting to save her, and he did save her, and he was the only person in that entire cast who kept searching and searching until he did it.

 

I know how the movie ends.    The Wayne character did want to kill her because of his racism,  but changed his mind.

 

I don't view that character as a hero.  

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I know how the movie ends.    The Wayne character did want to kill her because of his racism,  but changed his mind.

 

I don't view that character as a hero.  

Understand, there was an unspoken love between Ethan and his brother's wife Martha. He may have wanted to kill Debbie because to him she represented a part of his blood that had been disrespected by them nawyeka comanch. But Ethan could not bring himself to harm the child of his brother Aaron and Martha whom he loved. 

Yes, Ethan Edwards is a hero. :)

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