John Ford’s Authorship in Stagecoach
The auteur theory states that a director is the author of a film just like an author writes a book. Each director has their signature directing techniques which represent their authorship. John Ford, the famous Western director, had many aspects of his films which illustrated his authorship. The film Stagecoach shows Ford’s authorship at its finest, since this film still stands as one of his greatest works. In Stagecoach, Ford uses signature directing techniques in order to properly represent himself as the “author” of the film. One of his most signature devices as a director is focusing on how a group of characters survives in the rugged terrain of the West. Critics have stated that Ford shows his authorship is by contrasting the characters with both the setting of the film, and with each other. Stagecoach was filmed in Monument Valley, Arizona, but the film itself takes place in New Mexico. The valley is a very empty, desolate territory complete with “stark and startling landscapes with towering peaks, deep valleys, and empty, lonely, immense spaces”1. This was the first time Ford filmed there, and he would go on to film multiple westerns in the same location. The valley went on to be one of the most iconic settings for westerns, started by none other than Ford himself. This area itself marks a signature aspect of Fords authorship; however, it is what Ford does with the territory that makes it a crucial part of his filmmaking. Monument Valley is an extremely beautiful setting for the film, but there is an underlying sense of darkness within it. Ford manages to use his directorial expertise to install a sense of fear within this gorgeous landscape. This fear comes from the idea of “traveling into the unknown”. In a western town, there is law enforcement and fellow citizens that would help one feel protected, but out in the desert, anything goes. Once the stagecoach leaves town, our characters are no...
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