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3:10 to Yuma

I find most of the movies of the "Western" genre to be a pointless affair. They are mostly without any substance and over stylized to the point of looking indulgent. There are a few westerns which I enjoyed better, and "The Good, The Bad and The Ugly (1966)" isn't one of them. I found it to be good, but would not categorize it as great. I am a sucker for "Drama", and probably Sergio Leone failed me on that. "Unforgiven (1992)" was among the best that I have watched. It was and is, in my view, the a classic western should. 

"Hidalgo (2004)" wasn't exactly a western, but it had all the ingredients of a perfect movie for me. It had Viggo Mortensen in the lead, and what more could I ask for. "Appaloosa (2008)" was another one that comes to my mind when I think of some really good western movie, again starring my favourite Viggo Mortensen. 

And then there is "3:10 to Yuma (2007)", a movie I consider among the best that I have watched among all genres, not just restricted to the Westerns. This is reportedly one of the few movies, where the remake is better than the original. I am yet to see the original, and would definitely watch it in due course. 

The storyline would suggest that it is a movie about how a small time rancher (Dan Evans, portrayed by Christian Bale) agrees to and takes a dreaded dacoit / outlaw (Ben Wade, portrayed by Russel Crowe) to a train to go to a Court in Yuma, and the challenges they face and obstacles they overcome in their journey, how they get to know each other, work with each other and yet stay in the opposite sides of the moral spectrum.

I consider it to be a drama on human relationships set in the western background. A movie exploring the insecurities of a father and his efforts to gain the respect of his rebellious son, and be somebody his son can look upto with love and admiration. Its about a father and a husband, who gives his all, and doesn't budge on his moral compass even in the worst of his times. Its also about yearning for the parent that never was, and going all out to support your adversary, who represents all that you yearned for. 

Its also about the man who hasn't got his due, not just from the Government, also from his family. Atleast so he thinks. Just sample this dialogue from Dan Evans before he sets out on the journey to accompany the Marshals in taking the outlaw i.e. Ben Wade to the Convention, as his wife Alice asks him no to take up the risk job, since Ben Wade's men might attack and kill him 
Dan Evans: If I don't go, we got to pack up and leave, and God knows where, without a prayer, dirt-poor. Now I'm tired, Alice. I am tired of watching my boys go hungry. I'm tired of the way that they look at me. I'm tired of the way you don't. I've been standing on one leg for three damn years, waiting for God to do me a favour. And He ain't listening.
Look at following dialogue, which happens just before the final gunfight and the run to the station, conveying ever so subtly on the Ben Wade's disappointment and sadness at not having the parents to look upto, brilliantly acted by Russel Crowe.
Ben Wade: You ever read the bible, Dan? I read it one time. I was eight years old. My daddy just got hisself killed over a shot of whiskey and my mama said "we're going back East to start over". So she gave me a bible, sat me down in the train station, told me to read it. She was gonna get our tickets. Well, I did what she said. I read that bible from cover to cover. It took me three days. She never came back.
This minimal dialogue, with Russel Crowe's brilliance, and the lead upto the scene, conveys the importance of parenting, and hints at Ben Wade's admiration for Dan Evans. Admiration from an outlaw who probably thinks he wouldn't have been the dacoit he is, had he got the comfort of good parenting, for the man, who has nothing to lose, with one sick son, and one rebellious, and no money, and a broken leg, but still wants to do the morally correct things, and set the correct example for his sons.

And then this, in the middle of the run to the train station, when Ben Wade attempts to put some sanity into to Dan Evan's head, only to learn a thing or two about yearning for the son's respect. The desperation, desire and the conviction on display truly showcases Christian Bale's acting skills, and captures the insecurities of a father.
Dan Evans: [while being choked] I ain't never been no hero, Wade. The only battle I seen, we was in retreat. My foot got shot off by one of my own men. You try telling that story to your boy. See how he he looks at you then.

And finally this pair - the satisfaction of Dan Evans (Christian Bale) of having atlast gained the respect of his son and the knowledge that his son loves him.
Dan Evans: [handing him Alice's brooch] William, I want you to give this back to your mother. I want you to tell her that it helped me find what was right.

William Evans: Pa... I can't. I can't just leave you.

Dan Evans: I'm gonna be a day behind you, William. Unless something happens, and if it does, I need a man at the ranch to run things, protect our family, and I know that you can do that because you've become a fine man, William. You've become a fine man. You got all the best parts of me. What few there are.

[Dan shakes William's hand]
Dan Evans: And you just remember that your old man walked Ben Wade to that station when nobody else would.
- + - + - + - 
William Evans: You done it, Pa. You done it. You got him on the train. Pa...
The first set, just before the final run to the station starts, and the last dialogue just before the curtains. There is only admiration and pride in the eyes of the son, William Evans (Logan Lernman). And it is with this satisfaction that Dan Evans breathes his last. Still, the telling proof that Dan Evans has gained the respect and admiration from his rebellious son isn't this dialogue, but the powerful scene that happens just after this, as he points the gun at shaken Ben Wade (shaken at the sight of death of an ideal father he never had), with all the anger, desperation, sadness, but STILL holds the fire. Exactly as his father would have done. 

And you need to be too hard and forcefully stoic, not to be moved by these final moments.
Link to the full movie available on YouTube. 


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