«_ ABSTRACT: The western is the only fully-fledged film genre defined by geographical location. Yet does this mean that place, or a sense of place, ...»
modes of thought and concept. It is only in the concrete forms of landscape, and of place, that human lives become real, and that human community can take on genuine shape. If to be human is to engage with others as well as oneself, then such engagement must also, and at the same time, be an engagement with and in the landscape, with and in place. It may well be that it is precisely because of the way such issues are at stake in the Western, whether or not they are directly thematized or not, that makes the genre so significant and so attractive to audiences across cultures. The Western may have its origins in a uniquely American experience of the human relation to landscape and to place, and yet that relation is one that does not belong to the American experience alone. In George Stevens' Shane, not only do we find an instance of the classic Western, but we also find an instance of one of the clearest explorations of the spatial and topographic underpinnings of human life, identity, and community.
See Turner, 'The Significance of the Frontier in American History', in R.W. Etulain (ed.), Does the Frontier Experience Make America Exceptional? (Boston: St Martin's, 1999), Phillip French, Westerns, expanded edn. (London: Carcanet, 2005), p.13.
Don Dellilo, The Names (New York: Vintage Books, 1983), p.198; quoted in Scott Simmon, 'Concerning the Weary Legs of Wyatt Earp: The Classic Western According to Shakespeare', [insert ref], p.00.
From a different perspective, and with an eye to the essential connection between place and film, Ross Gibson has discussed Ford's The Searchers as an "exemplary place-making artifact" in 'Searching for a Place in the World: The Landscape of Ford's The Searchers, in Jeff Malpas (ed), The Place of Landscape (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2012), pp.246-256. Gibson focuses on the making of place as this occurs primarily through filmic, and especially, cinematographic technique. This is also an important element in both Shane and Hud (less so, I would argue, in Pale Rider), but it is not the sole or even main focus of my discussion here.
See Schaefer, Shane, The Critical Edition, ed. James C. Work (Lincoln, Nebraska: University of Nebraska Press, 1984). First published in book form in 1949, the story originally appeared as a three part serialization in Argosy magazine, in 1946, under the title, Rider from Nowhere.
In Schaefer's novel, the character is named Bob.
Phillip French, Westerns, p.65.
Originally, Stevens considered framing the film as a flashback (much as the novel is also told retrospectively) with Marian reading to Joey the story of Jack the Giant Killer – Ryker being the obvious figure for the giant. See the brief discussion in Edward Countryman and Evonne von Heussen-Countryman, Shane, BFI Film Classics (London: British Film Institute, 1999), pp.17-18. The fairy-tale motif is also present in the novel – see Schaefer, Shane, chapt. 16.
As Edward Countryman and Evonne von Heussen-Countryman put it – Shane, BFI Film Classics, p.53, see also p.15.
Schaefer, Shane, pp.62-63.
Grafton (Paul McVey) is a strangely neutral character in the film. As the owner of the store and bar, he supplies both the homesteaders and Ryker, and although he seems disinclined to take sides in the conflict that develops, Ryker is nevertheless concerned that things should look right to Grafton, and so it becomes important, for instance, that in the killing of Torrey, Wilson should be seen to draw second.
A different framing occurs in this opening scene with a view of Shane between the antlers of the deer as he approaches the cabin, and such framing recurs elsewhere: the shadow of a deer's antlers frames Joey in the early light of the morning following Shane's arrival; three trees frame the approach of the homesteaders Shipstead (Douglas Spencer) and Torrey as they come to town immediately prior to Torrey's killing by Wilson, and this framing is repeated when Shane approaches the town for the final confrontation with Wilson and Ryker.
The two films, and the way they each relate to the novels that are their sources, are discussed together in James K. Folson, 'Shane and Hud: Two Stories in Search of Medium', in Shane, The Critical Edition, pp.372It is worth noting, however, that just as Stegner himself became more pessimistic, and less hopeful (in spite of his comment here), so too did Schaefer come increasingly to adopt a more negative view of the 'civilization' to whose advancement Shane can be seen as contributing. See Michael Cleary, 'Jack Schaefer: The Evolution of Pessimism', in Shane, The Critical Edition, pp.319-337.