Sunday, March 7, 2010

Pale Rider. A-

'Pale Rider' is one of Clint Eastwood's best Westerns. It doesn't try to recreate the genre. In fact it deliberately acts as a homage to some classic Westerns like 'Shane' and 'High Plains Drifer.' Even though we know the story like the back of our hand (mysterious stranger rides in on a horse and proceeds to protect a town from a group of bad men) it's still not boring to watch it unfold. Eastwood plays the part of the savior (he's a religious man called Preacher) like a pro. There is some debate about his character. Of course he's a bit of a mystery, but he also has sort of a phantom presence. One character suggests he's seen him before, but then remarks that he has died. Also, in the climatic shootout Eastwood almost miraculously escapes his opposition. So, is Eastwood playing a ghost? I think he is. It's a daring idea, but I believe that Eastwood is really trying to push the mythic quality of the traditional Western. There are some problems with 'Pale Rider.' I thought the final scene of the movie was too much of a reproduction of the closing sequence in 'Shane.' Also, besides Eastwood, there weren't any characters who I liked or found interesting. But the film is all about Eastwood anyway, and here he gives a trademark gritty performance that also is a little deeper than what he usually offers.

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