Example Of Seven Men From Now Movie Review
Budd Boetticher’s 1956 feature Seven Men From Now remains a considerable masterpiece in the genre of Western films. The laconic film emphasizes action over word while forging a suggestive moral allegory. Through the stoic performance of Randolph Scott, we see a man who is full of not only unwavering conviction but also immense pain, regret and humanity—and therefore come into contact with the existence of those same feelings within ourselves. Through the film’s powerful execution, the audience is able to experience a deeper connection to the characters and the content by the sparseness of dialogue and the depth of emotional implication.
As an ex-sheriff who is hunting the seven men who murdered his wife, Randoph Scott plays Ben Stride. Set with a purpose in mind, he moves throughout the film with stoic resignation and quiet confidence. Scott’s chiseled facial features matched with his resonating voice offers him the perfect mold for a classic Westerner. More importantly, his ability to infuse tension into every scene because of his unwavering conviction to do what he thinks is right, regardless of the circumstances or ramifications of his actions, makes for the compelling nature of this Western film. His stolid face subtly reveals deeper complexities, and suggests that though he does not outwardly show it, he feels an enormous amount of personal pain.
On the other hand, Bill Masters is an outlaw whose smooth braggadocio contrasts with Scott’s understated assuredness. Although his is the prescribed “bad guy,” Marvin’s acting prowess enlivens the character with charisma and appeal. For example, in one of the film’s most memorable scenes, we are able to witness the surprising turns that take place within the psyches of the characters. Here, Masters takes full reign of situation when he and Stride take refuge in a wagon belonging to a married couple traveling to California. Rain is pouring down upon them as they drink coffee and sit by the light of a single lantern. Even without touching her in any way, Masters begins to seduce Mrs. Greer in the presence of both Stride and her husband. When Mrs. Greer asks about a woman he once knew, asking if she looked like her, he responds, “Not near as pretty, ma’am. Her eyes didn’t show a deep blue like yours [she was] nothing like you.” Masters’ commanding spirit is so powerful that Stride and Mr. Greer find themselves unable to take any dismantling action or state any dismissal of his words. The coda of the scene shows Mrs. Greer getting ready to sleep in the wagon, and Masters right below her. We see that they are both keenly aware of their closeness, and the audience can feel the magnetism of their growing attraction. Such scenes make it difficult to fully detest the enemy of our hero. Even when his death inevitably comes, the audience feels the same pang of loss as they would if the beloved protagonist was killed. This is evidence of Boetticher’s subtle ability to grow the sympathies of even the designated villains.
Never overbearing or overreaching, the film is reserved and intimate in nature. Where the film seems to lack in complex plot and character development, it makes up for it with the way in which its story is told. The terse nature of the film allows far more emotional meaning to be infused into every seemingly insignificant gesture. Every syllable is meant to be savored, while our hearts listen for everything that is said in-between the lines. In fact, underneath its unobtrusive outer appearance there lie Boetticher’s complex preoccupations with ritualistic tendencies, manliness, irony, and resounding despair. For example, the opening of the film is remarkably commanding in its stark nature. Ben Stride, played by Randolph Scott, moves into frame from behind the camera as he begins his journey of treading through the open space of Apache county. The sounds of gunfire which are out of camera shot are mated with images of the horses he will eventually seize from the men he tracks down and kills. This scene lends a marvelous coalescing of the movie’s events, which underscores the power of fate and purpose behind events over mere acts of blind violence.
In the same way that the film is intensely laconic, the scenes, too, waste no frames. The landscape was essential to providing the proper backdrop for the emotional content of the film. Rather than a symbol for unbridled wildness, the scenery is a bare and neutral canvas in which the characters exhibit their changing attitudes. This choice in scenery masterfully suggests that each person possesses sole responsibility for his or her own actions and decisions. Eventually, the landscape itself comes to symbolize the stoicism, strife, and rage that lies within our hero’s soul. For example, the scenes with the ambushes at the rocks are taut demonstrations of Boetticher’s insistence upon clean filmmaking. In the midst of all the gunfire, the attention remains on Scott, whose impassive moral stainlessness is juxtaposed with the tainted nature of fellow human beings. This scene creates the effect of watching a powerful silent film, as much of the meaning is felt rather than heard. In this juxtaposition, we see the side-by-side accompaniment of not only hero and villain, but the broader implications of art and society. Boetticher seems to suggest that underneath this keenly simple film lay the growing reality of the pureness of Western film that is now vulnerable to the shifting ramifications of modernity.
Boetticher’s efforts to create a film that is refreshingly poised rather than brashly mach succeed through its powerful performances, laconic dialogue and sparse cinematography. The audience grows to love the silent cowboy who is more than just an untamed Western man but rather a man who is a regretful witness to humanity’s corruption but still holds tight to his own moral code. The quiet poignancy of the film that spreads throughout its entirety provides the effective backdrop for pondering not only the characters’ actions and understandings, but also our own.