Essay on The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance Film

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  4
Wordcount:  1029 Words
Date:  2021-06-25

The film The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, directed by John Ford, depicts the American democratic political frontier during its infancy. The movies is about an aspiring lawyer, Ranse Stoddard, portrayed by James Steward who wrongly receives credit for the murder of Liberty Valance (Lee Marvin) a criminal who was in fact killed by a cowboy Tom Doniphon (John Wayne) CITATION Joh62 \l 1033 (Ford). The lawyer, Stoddard then goes on to have a prosperous political career, becoming a senator twenty five years after the infamous murder. Doniphon on the other hand, ends up dying poor in his rugged town of Shinbone CITATION Joh62 \l 1033 (Ford). The film depicts how the West political landscape changed, emphasizing on the nature of these changes as well as the losses and gains that came with it. As such, this paper addresses the founding of this new political dispensation, one that appeared to be on the basis on a myth.

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In the few minutes of the films, Ranse Stoddard is giving interview after arriving in the Western town of Shinbone for the funeral of Tom Doniphon. The film then begins a long flashback which entails how the two gentlemen met. It is at this point that the viewer is introduced to the old political order of the West. Stoddard, a young lawyer arrives at the town via a train which is attacked by armed robbers, led by Liberty Valance, who steals from everyone in the train at gun point CITATION Joh62 \l 1033 (Ford). After that ordeal Stoddard gives us the feel of the new political order that he feels is necessary for the town to avoid such banditry. He is determined to introduce a new dispensations. A political order that will be characterized by the rule of lawCITATION Bar \p 167 \l 1033 (Barr 167). He vehemently confronts Liberty Valance and informs him that he, Stoddard will make sure that he goes to Jail.

Director John Ford depicts another characteristic of the new political order as one that requires higher literacy levelCITATION Bar \p 168 \l 1033 (Barr 168). Stoddard realizes that the people of Shinbone do not know how to read and write and therefore, cannot take part in meaning change in their town. He therefore open a class when he teaches children and some few adults how to read and study law.

The new political order also bring with it political representation. The town holds a meeting in which they decide who would represent their interests in the capital city- Washington CITATION Joh62 \l 1033 (Ford). Valance and his fellow thugs do not want the interference of the state in their affairs, they want to keep their powers without having to answer to anyone. However, most of the towns people are willing to open up the town and embrace the new political order and have representatives in Washington.

The gains and losses: The Death of Liberty Valance marked the beginning of a new political era in the town. One that is not ruled by the power of the gun but a democratic processCITATION Bar \p 170 \l 1033 (Barr 170). However, Ford depicts that eliminating a particular system or order comes with gains and losses. During the flashback, a train bound for Shinbone represents a new and modern society. The railway opened and connected the American cities. It brought with it migration, technology, and new political order. In Shinbone, it brought Stoddard, an aspiring Lawyer who went on to revamp the towns way of life.

Stoddard arrives at shinbone offering to replace the old political older, that is based on the rule of the gun, with legal rights and education CITATION Joh62 \l 1033 (Ford). Among the advantages of the new order is that people, especially the children are able to read and write and therefore know their rights in the law. Secondly, the town is opened up to the rest of the country, the town holds meeting to elect their representative in Washington and therefore their interest cannot be addressed by the government. Finally, the dearth of Valance the criminal, represent the end of insecurity.

On the other hand, the loses that came with the new political order are illuminated by the interviewers reactions when Stoddard mentions the Tom Doniphon, a man they know nothing about, and do not want to be associated with. When Stoddard asks whether they will credit the murder of Liberty Valance to him, Doniphon, now that they knew the truth, the Interview says. This is the West, sir. When the legend becomes fact, print the legend 27:51.

According to the film, the new political order is founded on mythCITATION Bar \p 171 \l 1033 (Barr 171). The myth here is that Stoddard is a Legend, who brought about change by killing Liberty Valance. This expounds the assertion that American was founded on a necessary lie. Stoddard rose from a simple town lawyer to become a senator through opportunistic streaks building his grander on wrong credits. Yet, on the basis, the town has elevated his status to a legendary one, while indeed, someone else paid the ultimate price.

However, the myth has a central importance in the making of the new political frontier. It is based on the fact that Stoddard was seen as the hero who killed and eliminated the towns threats to democracy and peace that the town adopted the new political orderCITATION Bar \p 174 \l 1033 (Barr 174). Everyone was afraid and satisfied with the status quo until Stoddard challenged and defeated Liberty Valance. Now, the town has embraced democracy, representation, rule of Law, and has opened itself to the rest of the country.

According to the film, the new order seeks to overcome law-by-the-gun. In the old era, the people would resolve their dispute based on who drew out their guns faster, as such criminals like Liberty Valance had their way and terrorized everyoneCITATION Bar \p 176 \l 1033 (Barr 176). The new order, as seen by, Ranse Stoddard would be based on the rule of Law and any criminal activity would be death with as per the law.

Works Cited

Barr, Alan P. "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance Inhabits Film Noir." Western American

Literature 46.2 (2011): 162-179.

BIBLIOGRAPHY The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. Dir. John Ford. 1962.

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