← Back to Reviews

The Searchers

Reviews of the day:

The Searchers (1956)

This is a great western movie.
The story has some very subtle touches and famously contains many layers. Especially the background of John Wayne's character, Ethan, and the hidden love affair with his sister in law have been the cause of many speculations, during the years.
It's not only the script and the subtle storylines that make this film so good, though. The locations and some of the scenes are visually fantastic! My favorite visual aspects of the movie are the doors at the beginning and the ending that show us Ethan's lack of a real home, the talk behind the snowy tree and of course Debbie running down the hill behind Martin's back. Seriously classic stuff!

This western starts with the return of Ethan Edwards (John Wayne) to his brother's family house after a long trip. What he exactly did when he was away isn't completely clear. He fought in the civil war and after that he roamed around for another three years, but he never goes into detail about that time.
During his stay, we see a certain 'thing' going on between Ethan and his brother's wife. They glance at eachother, he kisses her tenderly on the forehead and she gently caresses his clothes. It's all in the background, but it's very clear that there is a history of forbidden love there.
Then Captain Clayton visits the ranch to ask for some help to find some cows back, who are probably stolen by Indians. When they find a dead cow in the middle of a valley, they know they've been deceived by the Indians.
While most of the men are gone, the indians burn down Aaron Edwards' farm and house, kill him, his wife and his son and kidnap his daughters. When the men come back and Ethan sees Martha (his broter's wife)'s burned body, he decides to search his nieces and to avenge his loved ones.
After some disappointments, the discovery of Lucy (Ethan's oldest niece)'s death and the murder of Lucy's boyfriend, only Ethan and Martin (a kind of adoption son of Aaron and Martha, who was found as a baby by Ethan) remain.
When they finally find Debbie, the youngest niece, after 5 years of traveling, she seems to be integrated in a deadly Indian tribe, under the leadership of a certain Scar. When Ethan sees this, he goes mad and wants to kill her. His intentions seem to change...
There are also several subplots for comic relief, like the romance between Martin and a neigbor girl. This compensates some of the darker themes of the movie.

This film has already been hailed as one of the best films of all time and although that may be a little bit too much praise, in my opinion, it certainly is a 'must see'! Even if the movie has a very deeply rooted story, it's also just a very fun watch and it offers a great load of escapism. I rate this movie: