Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Cowboys and Aliens meets The Searchers

Some critics call Cowboys & Aliens a mash up between SF and Western, when in reality, it is mash up between a Clint Eastwood movie, and those made by John Wayne.
With Jake depicted as a Clint Eastwood character and the military man dawn out of John Wayne movies such as The Searchers and Red River.
You can easily imagine the pre-filming meetings with the actors advising them on how to portray these.
While the opening scene of Jake lying on the ground appears to have been lifted from Wild Wild West after Jim West falls from the villain’s mechanical spider, I’m pretty sure both images were lifted from a Clint Eastwood Italian western, just as some of the other scenes of Jake were.
The Harrison Ford character transitions from Red River into The Searchers with several other John Wayne films tossed in, perhaps even The Horse Soldiers.
In the Searchers, John Wayne travels with a son who is partially Indian, a fact which he cannot forget as he pursues the woman he loves. Harrison Ford’s character hates Indians, including the Indian boy that most loves him like a father.
In Red River, we get a John Wayne that is a ruthless cattle baron and his adopted son. His wife was killed by Indians before the story starts. In Cowboys & Aliens, we have Ford as a ruthless cattle baron with a spoiled son, who has left much of the raising of his son to hired hands. As in the Red River, Ford’s men abandoned him half way through his pursuit of town’s people abducted by the aliens.
This pursuit seems to echo The Searchers in that the Ford character is a veteran of the Civil War that has a personal gripe with Indians – and pushes away the boy who is more like his son than his real son because he is an Indian.
In some ways, the aliens are really just another Indian tribe, the stereotype of the bad Indian vs. the good Indians the searchers in this film eventually find.
As in The Searchers, the aliens have abducted loved ones – including the military man’s real son – and the group must get them back.

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