The Films of John Ford – Essay Example

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The paper "The Films of John Ford" is an exceptional example of an essay on visual arts and film studies. John Ford is a great film director who has a clearer personal vision and consistent visual style, which are very evident in his characters and ideas. A brilliant director, Ford’s films express the unique experiences of the American people and the endorsement of their common unity of purpose (Russell 62). Although his heroes appear to be loners and outsiders who speak more through actions, their conflict with the society reflects the larger American experience, a profound esthetic awareness for the American history as well as the frontier spirit. Ford’s compositions bring into perspective the people as well as their typical settings beautifully put into contrast (Russell 62). These features are even more so evident in the Stagecoach, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, and The Grapes of Wrath. 

Stagecoach, for instance, narrates a journey that brings people together, people from different lifestyles and professions, but who are brought together by destiny. The movie majorly plays like a collection of timeless clichés (Browne 32). A woman goes into labor pain yet the doctor seems clueless and instead shouts, “Boil water! And lots of it!” There are instances when the viewer will encounter a good-hearted prostitute, a shifty gambler, an evil banker, a sultry Indian woman, a murderous apache, a humble traveling man, and a randy stagecoach driver. The journey is one that depicts corrals, saloons, campfires, vast landscape and the United State’s Cavalry. Ford uses the daily experiences to tell a story that most Americans can identify with: that one’s destiny can change with time depending on the prevailing circumstances.
Ford uses gifted actors to represent ordinary citizens. As such, they represent an interesting community who can reveal their veiled reasons for traveling in such great discomfort as they traverse the hazardous Indian Territory (Browne 35). Wayne, for instance, is a wanted murderer. Besides brilliant characters, Ford uses music, effective casting and dialogue to add a cinematic appeal to the movie. Perhaps even significant in this movie is the film’s perception of Native Americans. The Apaches are largely viewed as murderous savages with no hint that the white men invaded their territory.
The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance unfolds in the early 1900s. The director, just like the biblical Pilate seeks the truth, only that he does not wait. Senator Ransom and his wife Hallie are going back to the dusty frontier town where they had met and married two-decade back. They returned to attend Tom Doniphon’s funeral (Johnson & Dorothy 52). He was impoverished when he died. Again, director Ford uses John Wayne in this movie. He still refers to the frontier territory that is apparently associated with social ills such as murder and cartels. The story exposes an intricate balance between love, sacrifice, and dignity. Apparently, Stoddard killed Liberty Valance in a challenge that people thought he would win. Because Stoddard was a lawyer and that he had killed the notorious Liberty Valance, he was endorsed into politics amid the hope that he would help quell corruption in the territory (Johnson & Dorothy 29). The story takes a new twist when Doniphon tells Stoddard that he is the one who had killed Liberty Valance.
In killing the notorious Liberty Valance, Stoddard represents the new Western- associated with hope and new opportunities. Again, director John uses effective casting and notable characters such as Wayne to make another Western classic movie.
Like the two movies already discussed, The Grapes of Wrath is directed by John Ford and is performed by excellent cast having been adapted from a movie. The movie is set in 1930, during which time the Great Depression was so rife (Steinbeck 17). The story unfolds in Sallisaw, Oklahoma. The narrator takes viewers through meticulously vivid accounts of the havoc brought about by dust storms.
Some of the themes in this movie include a change that families must cope within the wake of a disaster, family as a means of survival and unity, lies and deceit especially when families emigrate to California (Western) in search of jobs, and betrayal (Place 27). The Grapes of Wrath further helps to show the belief that the Native Americans had about the Westerns. For instance, they believed that they had more opportunities and better living standards. The Natives were also in most instances associated with vices such as crime, corruption, and cartels (Russell 62). Director John Ford was able to use brilliant cast and relevant themes that characterized America in the early 1990s. As such, he directed movies that most Americans can identify with: their destiny and common unity of purpose that has defined their uniqueness.

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