In the film, The Searchers, director John Ford emphasizes setting as a major element of the western genre. Ford uses the beautiful and natural landscape of what appears to be New Mexico or Arizona in such a way that the qualities of the setting make them as important as characters in the film. In my lifetime, I have watched two movies directed by John Ford, and I have seen them both in the past 4 days, Stagecoach, and The Searchers. From what I have gathered from the two films, John Ford utilizes the landscape to help set the mood of the film, and help establish the characters of both films. I am going to use The Searchers as an example to expand on my point.
In the Opening shot where Ethan (John Wayne) is riding up to the house, he is shown riding his horse through a beautiful valley.
Little or no dialogue is uses to carry the scene, because of the strong music and beautiful shots. The scene is great because it not only introduces us to the main character, Ethan, in a majestic way, but it also establishes the timeframe and location of the film. Throughout the Film, Ford uses a variety of wide shots as transitions, to show how far the men have traveled, and therefore as passages in time.
As the film progresses, and as the men move out into the dessert to look for Debbie, the desert plays a major role in the men's "search". As the men search for Debbie, they are forced to travel across a desert, sometime with little or no water. Large Plateaus and hills surround the men, only to remind the viewer how alone in the desert these men really are. Ford utilizes wonderful wide shots...