segunda-feira, 10 de abril de 2006


Rio Bravo

I hate westerns. That's why I adore Rio Bravo. The genre annoys me because, although the sentiments it portrays are admirable, they are almost always based on principle rather than fact. What little directing exists is concerned with something other than itself -- personal problems, politics, technique. It denies the spirit of the true western and presents its opposite: emphasis, decorum, lyricism. Yet, Rio Bravo is pretty much the opposite of Johnny Guitar. There's nothing intrinsically poetic about the film although the end result is a kind of poetry. As always with Hawks the rules of the game are respected, at least until that moment when the director has had enough. Rio Bravo is an extremely original film in that it's a western about confinement in which there are no Indians, landscapes, or chase scenes. It does something rare in rediscovering the essence of the genre, but it does so in this rather remarkable way (whereas Red River and Big Sky arrive at the same result without breaking with tradition). Rio Bravo brings to mind a thriller like To Have and Have Not or a melodrama, like Barbary Coast. So why did Hawks make this western? Because it enabled him to present actions that are not ordinarily seen in our everyday world, by beings outside of nature. I'm not a sheriff, or Angie Dickinson, or a pharaoh; neither are you. Yet Hawks shows us that the appeal of such individuals is unrelated to what we might expect (the world of adventure, the extraordinary). Hawks the classicist has always rejected these values, satirized them, ridiculed them, even ignored them in The Thing. Yet he also accepts the everyday: a man is a sheriff the same way he's a laborer or a subway conductor. There are plenty of gunshots in Rio Bravo, but none of them real, none of them have any true dramatic value. The incessant gunfights end up only becoming monotonous, and they eliminate all suspense. Each repeated gesture cancels its predecessor. And Wayne's blase intelligence, far from contemplating the act, somehow immediately grasps the range of possible consequences. How Wayne does this is a question of telepathy, similar to the way Hawks' previous heroes had eyes in the back of their head.

Luc Moullet, Cahiers du cinéma, July 1959

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