Western Films are the major defining genre of the American film industry, a nostalgic eulogy to the early days of the expansive, untamed American frontier and the borderline between civilization and the wilderness.
They are one of the oldest, most enduring and flexible genres and one of the most characteristically American in their mythic origins. This indigenous American art form focuses on the frontier west that existed in North America in the 19th and early 20th centuries and are often set in the American frontier during the last part of the 19th century (1865-1900) following the Civil War, in a geographically western setting with romantic, sweeping frontier landscapes or rugged rural terrain. The Searchers (1956) is considered by many reviewers to be a true American masterpiece of filmmaking, and the most influential and perhaps most admired film of director John Ford. It was his 115th feature film, and he was already a four-time Best Director Oscar winner [The Informer (1935), The Grapes of Wrath (1940), How Green Was My Valley (1941), and The Quiet Man (1952)], all for his pictures of social comment rather than his quintessential westerns. The film's themes include racism, individuality, the American character, and the opposition between civilization, exemplified by homes, caves, and other domestic interiors and the untamed frontier wilderness. The film begins with a frontier cabin door opening onto the wilderness.
The black silhouette of a frontier woman moves from the darkness, with a forward-tracking camera, through the door to the brightly sunlit wilderness outside through which Monument Valley is seen. Moving excitedly to the porch, she notices a man approaching, in the centre of the frame, who slowly rides in from the desert in a mythic entrance – the man is framed between two distant buttes. The scene presents the visual and iconic motif of the framed doorway and the indexical threshold between the two worlds.