Piazza Maggiore > 21:45


John Ford
Introduced by

Wim Wenders and Alexander Payne

Event sponsored by Abruzzese e Associati

(In case of rain, the screening will take place at Cinema Modernissimo)


Saturday 22/06/2024


Original version with subtitles


Film Notes

The Searchers was filmed in VistaVision and released in 1.85. Scanned in 13K by Warner Bros. at Motion Picture Imaging laboratory, from the original 8 perf 35mm VistaVision camera negative. Restoration work completed in 6.5K. The 70mm film print was created by filming out a new 65mm negative. Original mono soundtrack restored at Post Production Creative Services laboratory. The audio restoration was completed by Doug Mountain with assistance from Matt Vowles. Newly restored version approved by The Film Foundation.
Through John Wayne, John Ford reflected narratives of his country’s development far beyond the given historical framework. Stagecoach launched a series of issues that culminated in The Searchers and were given a testament in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. First, the protagonist is a gunfighter, a good bad man. Second, Monument Valley provides a timeless, mythical perspective to history and the present. Third, Stagecoach marked a departure from the western’s juvenile legacy. Not only the storyline was inspired by Maupassant but also its dark and questioning dimension and the satirical vision of society. The questioning continued in The Searchers.
Made after the cavalry trilogy, it was frighteningly prophetic about a growing split in the national psyche in the years to come. The Searchers touches the heart of racism but also leaves room for reconciliation. The perspective is utopian. Ethan has obviously decided to destroy his niece Debbie, who has become a squaw for a Comanche chief. Having killed Scar, the chief, Ethan sets his sights on Debbie, desperately on the run. There is a stunning reversal of the plot. “Let’s go home, Debbie…” Poignantly, the words are spoken by a man who can never have a home. From a position of the eternal outsider – as Tom Doniphon would be in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance – Ethan is searching for a kind of utopian home. Like Tom Joad (The Grapes of Wrath), Ethan is forever returning home, always at odds with official civilisation, an asocial and wanted man. The door is closed and seems to close Ethan forever outside the community he has helped build and protect and whose ideal at this ground zero, the early 1870s, is seriously damaged. Ethan as interpreted by Wayne is a nowhere man, wild and untamed, as well as an embodiment of longings that society fails to meet.

Peter von Bagh, Elämää suuremmat elokuvat II [Films Bigger Than Life II], Otava, Helsinki 1993. Edited in English by Antti Alanen

Cast and Credits

Sog.: dall’omonimo romanzo (1954) di Alan Le May. Scen.: Frank S. Nugent. F.: Winton Hoch. M.: Jack Murray. Scgf.: James Basevi, Frank Hotaling. Mus.: Max Steiner. Int.: John Wayne (Ethan Edwards), Jeffrey Hunter (Martin Pawley), Vera Miles (Laurie Jorgensen), Ward Bond (reverendo-capitano Clayton), Natalie Wood (Debbie Edwards), John Qualen (Lars Jorgensen), Olive Carey (signora Jorgensen), Henry Brandon (Scar), Ken Curtis (Charlie McCorry), Harry Carey Jr. (Brad Jorgensen). Prod.: C.V. Whitney Pictures, Inc. 70mm. D.: 120’. Col.