High Plains Drifter

High Plains Drifter ★★★★

Most of Eastwood's early American westerns were deliberate in their references to Italian films, so it made sense his first self-directed one would do the same, but while Post or Sturges would acknowledge his Leone roots better to incorporate the Man with No Name in a more American iconography, Eastwood seems more interested in exploring Eurowestern gothic roots for a horror/western hybrid that reimagine American western long retribuition motif in a far more extreme and metaphysical vain. All of Eastwood's westerns have a certain tendency towards trying to desestabilize tradition by making the violence hits harder (it must be Eastwood most New Hollywood tic), but none more than High Plains Drifter. It is his most theoretical western. a very deliberate proposition about the genre violence and retribution repurposed to hell or at least a very violent limbo. If it works it is because of the richness of the images he and Surtees come up with it and how good the film is at creating a tortured and wounded space to let all of the ugly violence to play on. The marriage between offering a larger social tapestry for Italians baroque power fantasies and use those to dirty up American self-righteous ideas about frontier violence remans high provocative.

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