Book reviews, art, gaming, Objectivism and thoughts on other topics as they occur.

Oct 3, 2007

3:10 to Yuma

It's telling that I've been a bit preoccupied when I'm only now getting around to blogging a movie I saw several weeks ago. It doesn't matter, because this one is worth writing about anyway.

Westerns aren't really a common thing to see in the theater any more, although I don't fall in with the crowd that claims Clint Eastwood "destroyed" the Western. Complexity and moral ambiguity are not necessarily bad things in art. They are bad if your art suggests that this is the way things ought to be, however.

3:10 to Yuma starts out with some difficult moral ambiguity. You find yourself feeling more drawn to the obvious villian, Ben Wade, played by Russell Crowe, because he speaks righteously and acts boldly. Christian Bale's character, Dan Evans, on the other hand, seems a pitiable figure. This is dramatized beautifully in a scene where Dan Evans attempts to extort some petty cash out of Ben Wade instead of yelling for the authorities.

Over the course of the movie, however, Dan gradually grows in stature and begins to assert himself, first as competent, and then finally as someone who has really grasped the moral issues at stake. By the end you are rooting for him to win even though it seems impossible.

Ben Wade is played in a fascinating fashion by Crowe as well. The character is evil but still human, and his actions are internally consistent to an astonishing degree. He suffers no conversion, nor does he repent of his evil acts, but he behaves consistantly by a personal code. It keeps him alive while also leading him to get caught over and over again.

A friend of mine told me that a lot of people didn't like the ending, but I found it to be inevitable. There was no possible way Dan could decide to give up his mission, likewise there was no possible way Ben Wade could just let it happen. The way the events unfold is necessary and astonishing.


James said...

Are you an Objectivist, like as in "I like Ayn Rand!"? If so, I find it amusing that you have astrological sign data in your blogger profile.

Jennifer Snow said...

I'm an Objectivist as in, I'm an Objectivist (I like Ayn Rand's *books*, I never met her in person). Why shouldn't I have astrological sign data? It's not like I don't *know* when I was born. I don't care whether some nitwit comes to the erroneous conclusion that I actually believe in astrology from it.

James said...

Fair enough.