Matt (student number: 09323296)
Interpretation and Translation Class H
May 20, 2011
The Real Man
Fred Zinnemann’s High Noon depicts a typical western story happens in a small
town. After the wedding, Kane, the sheriff, gets the news that the murderer Frank Miller, who was supposed to be executed, is coming back at high noon. For the sake of the safety of his people, Kane talks himself into the idea of staying. In the end, Kane has to finish his plan without any assistance from other people. Throughout the film, even though Kane triumphs at last, the director drives people to reflect on a question. That is, what does it take to be a real man? The answer is responsibility, justice, and tenderness.
Without doubt, Kane, whose personality is strongly characterized by the spirit of the cowboy, is the only MAN in High Noon. Kane is also a typical image of an expected American man who should be brave, gentle, righteous and responsible. In High Noon, Fred used a sharp contrast between the residents and Kane to intensify Kane’s masculinity. Apart from the masses, there are some male characters in the movie including the Judge, the Deputy Sheriff, Kane’s Mentor, as well as two main female ones including Amy and Helen. All of these characters contribute to the rise of Kane’s masculinity. The masses, in traditional western movies, are usually innocent people who are supporters of the hero. However, in the film High Noon, the innocent
people, even though do nothing violent, are actually turning into the mob and the accomplices of evil. Other major male characters, who are expected to be the helpers of justice, also succumb to the instinctive cowardice and become onlookers. Nothing
is more hurting than indifference. Under the circumstance of people’s betrayal and indifference, Kane has no choice but to brave the killers all alone. The scale which is taken off by the Judge, the empty street, the burning sun, and Kane walking alone on the street with sweats streaming down the face, these all indicate the loneliness and helplessness of Kane and further set off the manhood of Kane. Besides courage, Kane is also a man with protectiveness and gentleness. The refusal to consent to the only boy who wants to offer help shows Kane is a rational man who knows clearly that a teenager under age should not be involved in violence. And the playing kid bumping into Kane’s strong body instead of the wooden porch sends a message that Kane is also a gentle and protective father, although Kane does not have a child himself. A man who possesses the quality of high sense of responsibility, justice, bravery and tenderness is surely popular with kids, but also with women. That’s why the only two women in High Noon are both in love with Kane. Women’s love is inspired by Kane’s masculinity, especially in a town that no other men act like Kane.
High Noon is a simple story in plot, but not a simple story in spirit. The movie drives people to think what is needed in order to be an American man, or generally, a real man. “Are you scared?” asks Harvey. “I guess so.” Kane replies. But because of the responsibility, Kane cannot leave. And this is the reason that makes Kane a real man who has “more than a broad shoulder”.
High Noon. Dir. Fred Zinnemann. Perf. Gary Cooper, Grace Kelly, Thomas Mitchell, Katy Jurado, and Ian MacDonald. Stanley Kramer Productions, 1952.