Many people consider the time period known as the Old West to have been one marked by anarchy and savagery.
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In the undeveloped frontier, there was no infrastructure at all, and both people and nature were uncaring and deadly.
As a result, many people’s lives were cut short there, and everyone had a difficult time of it. But as the United States of America expanded its reach over the vast expanse of its territory, a story began to take shape.
They gave it the moniker Manifest Destiny, and although if the actuality of America’s movement was less heroic than many myths may suggest, there is truth in the idea that Americans set out to tame difficult territories that they were unfamiliar with.
Manifest Destiny was given to them by the Native Americans. As a result of these efforts, the Western literary genre was formed, and it went on to become one of the most popular settings in America. And over the course of the years, there have been very few names in Westerns that have meant as much as Clint Eastwood’s.
But despite the fact that Eastwood was revered as a master of Western narrative, the piece of work for which he is most known was neither American nor conformed to the noble ideas of Manifest Destiny.
As a star of Western movies, he usually played villains rather than white-dusted cowboys who pretended to be knights in shining armor. His characters were anti-heroes. He was not present when the land was subdued and a new home was established for the American people.
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It’s ironic, though, that one of his earliest works as a director is a movie that’s almost entirely about trying to establish some semblance of civility in a backwoods community.
The film “High Plains Drifter,” released in 1973 and starring Eastwood as well, recounts the narrative of a man seeking vengeance and retribution after the people he had vowed to protect have harmed him.
High Plains Drifter Is a High-Concept Revenge Story
The unnamed cowboy in “High Plains Drifter,” much like the protagonists of many other films directed by Eastwood, takes morality in a very loose sense. As soon as he arrived in the town of Lago, he established a reputation for being a bully, a murderer, and a rapist.
That doesn’t exactly sound like something a protagonist would do. But as the plot develops, we find out more information about Lago, including how it was founded dishonestly on land that was technically owned by the government.
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How it was terrorized by a gang of outlaws, and how the outlaws whipped the town Marshal to death (Buddy Van Horn) without the citizens of Lago so much as lifting a finger to help him.
The protagonist played by Eastwood is vividly aware of all of this for some reason, and the violent end to the Marshal’s life even occurs in his dreams at one point. Therefore, when the outlaws are killed in the film’s climactic scene, the figure played by Eastwood is not trying to save the “innocent” townspeople; rather, he is dishing out just revenge.
“The Stranger reveals the corruption that followed from the town’s lack of moral courage when it acquiesced to Duncan’s [the Marshal’s] murder,” as stated in the book “The Philosophy of Clint Eastwood.”
Therefore, by the time everything is said and done, everybody gets what they want out of “High Plains Drifter.” However, this also covers the phenomenon of having a beneficial impact.
Mordecai, played by Billy Curtis, was the despised dwarf of the town, but he rose up the ranks to become Lago’s sheriff and mayor, and he even rescued Eastwood’s character in the film’s final act. And despite the fact that Lago is ultimately destroyed in part, the people who live there and their village are not significantly harmed.
Supernatural Conflict or Family Feud?
The Conclusion of “High Plains Drifter” Is Deliberately Left Open to Interpretation. After Nearly Burning the Town, Literally Painting It Red, and Avenging Marshal Duncan by Slaying the Outlaws, Eastwood’s Stranger Leaves the Town and Returns to The Scorching Heat of The Desert from Whence He Came.
when Mordecai Asks Him His Name, the Man Just Responds that They Already Know It and Then Walks Away as Mordecai Marks the Grave of The Marshal, Which Had Previously Been Unmarked. This Scene Reveals to Us, at The Very Least, that The Marshal’s Soul Has Been Laid to Rest in The Way That It Should Have Been.
Having Said That, It Is Also Intended to Suggest that There Is Some Sort of Relationship Between the Stranger and Marshal Duncan.
This Is Not an Original Relationship that The Movie Creates Either. Both the Stranger’s Knowledge of The Town’s Misdeeds and The Nightmares He Has Been Having About the Marshal’s Death Lead in A Very Clear Direction.
These Sequences, According to The Interpretation of Some Viewers, Give the Impression that The Stranger Is a Literal spirit of wrath. He is the specter of the murdered Marshal, resurrected in a new body to exact the vengeance that is rightfully his.
Some people understand it to mean that the Stranger has some kind of connection to the Marshal. Is he a sibling, a cousin, or a friend of yours? Nobody can be certain, but the possibilities leave both the viewer and the villagers scratching their heads, sincerely wondering who the mysterious stranger that came and departed so swiftly was.
Nobody can be certain, but the possibilities leave both viewers and residents scratching their heads.