En fremmed uden navn
seventies was a period where conventions were turned upside down, for better or
worse, and in movies the classic Western genre was no exception. Clint Eastwood,
the face of the Sergio Leone western, went back to his man-with-no-name character
in his second movie as director, but he did something decidedly different with
A stranger (Clint
Eastwood) rides into a seemingly peaceful village called Lago. Them folks don’t
like strangers and he is almost immediately accosted by some ruffians. When
they try to rough him up, he kills them. Just like that. A young woman tries to
catch his attention, then turn bitchy on him and he takes her to a barn and
rapes her. He stays overnight in a hotel and dreams of the former marshal being
whipped to dead while the townspeople stand passive by. Then, the day after the
townspeople want to hire the stranger to protect them against three banditos,
expected to arrive shortly to exact a revenge for being arrested in the town.
The three banditos are those who whipped the marshal to death. The townspeople are
so desperate they offer the stranger completely free hands, anything he wants.
where things get weird. Up to this point this looks like another version of
High Noon or Seven Samurai, but The Stranger’s preparations are decidedly odd.
A midget is setup as sheriff and mayor. Stuff are given away to Indians and
Mexicans. A barn is taken down. The saloon is being ripped of drink and so on.
Yeah, they do some practice shooting, but the townspeople really are no good.
The Stranger wants them to prepare a fiesta, a “Welcome Home Boys” banner and
paint the town read, while renaming the town “Hell”. By now the townspeople are
getting royally sick of him and wonder if it is really worth it, but the
Stranger seems to have an eye on each finger and stops any attempt to get at
him. Also, it is becoming clear to us that they had more than a finger in that
murder on the Marshal. What happens then when the baddies show up? Who are the real
bad guys? And who is this Stranger?
There is a strong
element of the surreal here, especially around the stranger’s identity. It is
as if the dead marshal has come back to exact his revenge on the town, to shown
them how pathetic and cowardly they are and how they are all complicit in the
crime. The guilty town is emphasized by the strange fact that there is not a
single child around (except for two Indian children), children being by
definition innocent. Is the stranger the town’s guilty consciousness tearing it
apart, personified in the judging stranger?
is clear enough: passivity is complicity. If have the capacity to prevent a
crime , it is criminal not to stop it. A message very fitting for a very
aside this is also a very engaging movie to watch. Drama and violence is
lurking under the surface constantly and Clint Eastwood is superb in his
typecast role of quiet avenger. This is Clint Eastwood exactly like we expect
him to be. As violent as it is, this is also a movie I very much enjoyed watching.
Guilty pleasure, I suppose, but this really is a different western.
recommendation for fans of Clint Eastwood and those who like a bit of Bunuel in