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High Noon

High Noon

Fred Zinnemann, 1952

Well, I finally came to watch this well-regarded western classic. It turns to be a difficult piece to judge for me. That is, while I do respect what this film brings in the context of western, and find its perspective very interesting, the execution at some key points falls flat for me.

So for instance and maybe as my biggest issue with this film, the music choices seem very off to me. The main theme, while not being bad, is repeated again and again, which ends up making it a bit of a chore. But overall the problem of this soundtrack is rather in the moments when it's used rather than the score itself. That is, it seems too often played at the wrong time, reinforcing an emotion before it's shown in the screen, or tying scenes that don't have the same emotional vibe. This becomes specially noticeable and annoying to me in a scene where Will talks to the judge about Frank Miller and a shot of the chair is shown.

On the other hand, I can't come to fully enjoy the excess of dramatization in many scenes and discourses. While I do feel for Will, it happens to me that the depiction of the many characters that interact with him relies too much on that and falls flat. To put an example, there are the dialogues that are given to the character of Katy Jurado. The character itself is pretty nice, but her phrases seem like they pertain to a Greek tragedy instead of a rather mundane western context.

But these points set aside, and as said, the concept of this film looks amazing to me. I don't really know how much of this is actually true but I feel this was a ground-breaking movie at the time, as shown in its psychological approach, which ties it more to a suspense movie than the western imagery. The real-time narration was a very smart decision and only helps to the involvement on the story. And I appreciate it more given its political context and relevance, it's quite hard to deny that merit.

I believe that the best thing by far in this work is Gary Cooper's tough acting; while the storytelling falls in the verge of irregularity more often than it should, the reason why in the end I still care about what happens is that the performance brought by this actor in a rather difficult role manages to channel this mix of tension, anxiety and frustration, make it work and lead the film to a perfect, though certainly predictable, conclusion.