Photo 11 Mar 38 notes "First, apart from being an American epic, The Searchers also is a John Wayne Western; for many, even at this late date in film history, that’s still an excuse to ignore it. Secondly, it doesn’t go down quite as easily as the pictures mentioned above. Like all great works of art, it’s uncomfortable. The core of the movie is deeply painful. Every time I watch it — and I’ve seen it many, many times since its first run in 1956 — it haunts and troubles me. The character of Ethan Edwards is one of the most unsettling in American cinema. In a sense, he’s of a piece with Wayne’s persona and his body of work with Ford and other directors like Howard Hawks and Henry Hathaway. It’s the greatest performance of a great American actor. (Not everyone shares this opinion. For me, Wayne has only become more impressive over time.)
"Ethan also is genuinely scary. His obsessiveness, his absolute hatred of Comanches and all Native Americans and his loneliness set him apart from any other characters Wayne played and, really, from most protagonists in American movies. Even his gunfighter in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, his final performance for Ford, doesn’t run as deep. Ethan Edwards as brought to life by Wayne and Ford is a cousin to Melville’s Ahab on one hand and his Bartleby on the other — driven to the point of madness and absolutely alone. And neither director nor actor cuts corners with Ethan’s race hatred. There’s a shocking scene early on, in which Ethan and his search party find a Comanche buried under a rock. He shoots out the dead man’s eyes so that he won’t be allowed to enter the spirit lands and will remain destined to wander forever between the winds. No one in his posse understands the meaning of the gesture: He hates Comanches so much that he actually has bothered to learn their beliefs in order to violate them.
When he finally tracks down his niece, the girl he’s spent the past 10 years searching for, and finds that she’s taken on the ways and language of her captors, he’s suddenly ready to kill her. That’s the craziness of Ethan Edwards and the craziness of race hatred — murderous fixation and disgust are side by side with fascination and attraction. The author does an excellent job of addressing that craziness and how it played out in American history and in the Western genre.
 In truly great films — the ones that people need to make, the ones that start speaking through them, the ones that keep moving into territory that is more and more unfathomable and uncomfortable — nothing’s ever simple or neatly resolved. You’re left with a mystery. In this case, the mystery of a man who spends 10 years of his life searching for someone, realizes his goal, brings her back and then walks away. Only an artist as great as John Ford would dare to end a film on such a note. In its final moment, The Searchers suddenly becomes a ghost story. Ethan’s sense of purpose has been fulfilled, and like the man whose eyes he’s shot out, he’s destined to wander forever between the winds.”
— Martin Scorsese 

"First, apart from being an American epic, The Searchers also is a John Wayne Western; for many, even at this late date in film history, that’s still an excuse to ignore it. Secondly, it doesn’t go down quite as easily as the pictures mentioned above. Like all great works of art, it’s uncomfortable. The core of the movie is deeply painful. Every time I watch it — and I’ve seen it many, many times since its first run in 1956 — it haunts and troubles me. The character of Ethan Edwards is one of the most unsettling in American cinema. In a sense, he’s of a piece with Wayne’s persona and his body of work with Ford and other directors like Howard Hawks and Henry Hathaway. It’s the greatest performance of a great American actor. (Not everyone shares this opinion. For me, Wayne has only become more impressive over time.)

"Ethan also is genuinely scary. His obsessiveness, his absolute hatred of Comanches and all Native Americans and his loneliness set him apart from any other characters Wayne played and, really, from most protagonists in American movies. Even his gunfighter in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, his final performance for Ford, doesn’t run as deep. Ethan Edwards as brought to life by Wayne and Ford is a cousin to Melville’s Ahab on one hand and his Bartleby on the other — driven to the point of madness and absolutely alone. And neither director nor actor cuts corners with Ethan’s race hatred. There’s a shocking scene early on, in which Ethan and his search party find a Comanche buried under a rock. He shoots out the dead man’s eyes so that he won’t be allowed to enter the spirit lands and will remain destined to wander forever between the winds. No one in his posse understands the meaning of the gesture: He hates Comanches so much that he actually has bothered to learn their beliefs in order to violate them.

When he finally tracks down his niece, the girl he’s spent the past 10 years searching for, and finds that she’s taken on the ways and language of her captors, he’s suddenly ready to kill her. That’s the craziness of Ethan Edwards and the craziness of race hatred — murderous fixation and disgust are side by side with fascination and attraction. The author does an excellent job of addressing that craziness and how it played out in American history and in the Western genre.

 In truly great films — the ones that people need to make, the ones that start speaking through them, the ones that keep moving into territory that is more and more unfathomable and uncomfortable — nothing’s ever simple or neatly resolved. You’re left with a mystery. In this case, the mystery of a man who spends 10 years of his life searching for someone, realizes his goal, brings her back and then walks away. Only an artist as great as John Ford would dare to end a film on such a note. In its final moment, The Searchers suddenly becomes a ghost story. Ethan’s sense of purpose has been fulfilled, and like the man whose eyes he’s shot out, he’s destined to wander forever between the winds.”

— Martin Scorsese 

(Source: hollywoodreporter.com)

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