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High Plains Drifter: Was The Rape Scene Really Necessary

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This thread started on the old board, it is a good thread and we just couldn't just let it drift away ;).

AKA23 started it and I re-posted every message as they originally appeared in the old CEWB.

 :)Feel free to add your opinion

Originally posted by AKA23, 10-28-2001 04:56 PM
Hey guys I just popped in High Plains Drifter into the DVD player and watched it last night and I don't know but I must say that there was one scene in that really unnerved me. While watching it I kept thinking over and over again what purpose did that rape scene serve? It seemed to me to be something that didn't really need to be there unless you are painting this guy as some type of evil creature which was not the intention or impression that I got from the film at all. I'd have to say that High Plains Drifter is one of Eastwood's darkest films as an actor/director. The only films that I can think of that are comparable to it would be Sudden Impact and possibly Unforgiven. Yes, Unforgiven is a very dark film at times but I still found myself at least having some kind of an understanding as to why he did what he did and why the film played out as it did. With the rape scene, I just find this guy to be a total bastard. I can understand him killing those three guys in the barber shop at least to a degree and I can understand the majority of his other actions in the film but this action I just don't get. And then he justifies what he did having no remorse for it at all. I just don't get it. Am I missing something? A few frames after that he's being the good samaritan and giving blankets and candy to the poor. It doesn't make sense to me. If he is in fact supposed to be a sort of avenging angel (and thats a crude term for what he is I think) than why the rape scene? I can understand him punishing the town for their involvement in the Duncan murders. I can understand the majority of the Strangers actions but this one I just find to be completely immoral and totally beyond any justification whatsoever. Are we supposed to hate this character or sympathize with his actions? This rape scene just doesn't makes sense to me and I find myself hating the character the more than I think about it! But then in the rest of the movie he doesn't do anything too objectionable that would make me want to hate him. I don't quite understand why he would kick all of those people out of the hotel but since the hotel manager was involved in the murder than can be somewhat explained. But why the rape?

Originally posted by AKA23, 10-28-2001 07:00 PM
Anybody have any answers to these questions...I've been thinking a lot about them and I just wanted to find out some other people's opinions from the board.

Originally posted by Doug, 10-28-2001 10:10 PM
Wasn't it someone on this board who quoted Clint as saying if he'd made the film "today" he would not have included the rape scene? But I think it's a lot of PC garbage. Rape is worse than murder? I don't think so. But it is a disturbing scene. And I think it was meant to be a disturbing scene. Clint more than any other actor has chosen movies with strong and interesting women roles in them, but this movie seems to be a blemish to that reputation. I think the movie could stand without that scene, but I'm not sure it would be as strong. I don't see this movie as one where you're supposed to like the character, but as one where you uneasily root for him anyway because he so utterly and ruthlessly exposes the hypocrocy of the town.
I saw the movie recently and paid special attention to that scene. What I saw was her deliberately bumping into him, and he was trying to pass, but she kept provoking him, knocking the cigar from his mouth. And how much did she resist? At first she did, but not a whole lot, and then not at all. The ugly cliche "she really wanted it" seems to apply in this case, given the context of the movie. The movie suggests his biggest crime was not going back to her a second time. But the main issue is that she was no innocent. In a flashback we see her cheering while he's whipped in the street. I think that is even more disturbing. We see the dwarf cowering during the whipping, perhaps even afraid for his own life with all the people in a blood frenzy, and notice he makes out the best in the movie. Appropriate revenge on the town. And the suppressed Indians, they're given blankets and supplies at the town's expense.

I don't think this is a simple movie, and the rape scene is complex, and I don't think it should be looked at as an advocation of rape anymore than the movie is of violence and murder. It's harsh but everything in the movie is harsh, and the town's people beget the violence, then hired "assassins, people of low character" to protect them,and they too came to a violent end. I think it's one of the all-time great westerns, and this is just my opinion: what I saw in the movie. Without a doubt, I think, Clint's character is the most sadist and most vile "hero" of any movie ever made. Yet the movie suggests only such a hero was capable of exposing the bigger evil that ruled that town.

Originally posted by AKA23, 10-28-2001 10:40 PM
Yes, I just saw the film yesterday and so my memory of that scene is pretty crystal clear if you pardon the cliche.
Here's the scene:

--- Quote ---Callie: Why dont you watch where you're going? Look at this its ruined
Stranger: Theres no need for all that

Callie:All what?

Stranger: If you want to get acquainted why dont you just say so?

Callie: Aquainted? Well you'd be amusing if you weren't so pathetic. (Stranger tries to walk away.) Just a minute Im not finished with you yet. you know at a distant you'd almost pass for a man but you're certainly a disappointment up close, aren't you?

You're feet m'am are almost as big as your mouth.

She knocks the cigar out of his mouth.

Callie: You know what you are? You're just trash a bottle of whiskey for courage and the manners of a goat.

Stanger: You're the one who could use a lesson in manners

Callie: Not from you whiskey breath

Stranger grabs Callie and the scene ensues...

Callie: Let go of me....

--- End quote ---

So yeah there's the scene but again I don't know if it was really necessary. You've got some nice commentary there Doug and it's interesting but somehow I feel that at the very least it could have been done differently..

Maybe they didn't need to show the whole rape scene in the barn or at least not as much as they did because even in the 1970's where that scene would pale in comparison to what's shown today when I finished watching it it left me extremely disturbed. I don't know maybe it's just me just not being too comfortable with scenes of such a forced sexual nature or maybe not but at any rate I'm wondering why Eastwood chose to include that scene in there when he could just have easily done it differently or left it out entirely? It's not that it completely disgusts me as much as it is that I don't understand it.

I didn't say that I liked the character of the Stranger but I found it amusing how at every turn he tried to fight the hypocracy that he saw in the town. He made the only real morally redeemable character Mordecai who had previously just been a lowly guy working in the barber shop into the town sheriff and the mayor as he felt that the current Sheriff was really making a mockery of justice and not doing his job and the mayor as well.

Then he goes and gives the candy and the blankets the the poor Indian family. All of these actions seem to indicate a sort of avenging angel type of character.

Sure he kills the three guys in the barber shop but I don't think anybody felt too sorry for them. They were evil characters hired sort of guns with no admirable qualities whatsoever. They completely antagonize him at the bar and then he leaves trying to avoid the situation they find him and start provoking him again because they don't like him or possibly they perceive him as somewhat of a threat to themseleves or their industry I don't know. When they put their hands on him as if they are going to rough him up he gets tired of the bull**** and kills 'em. Now I don't think I would have done the same thing in the situation but I can least somewhat understand the action.

Then, after that all of his actions can be attributed to punishing the town for their role and their blind negligance in doing something about the murder of their Sheriff Duncan. It can be said to be a sort of penance for their actions. Some of those who helped out and stood watching one of their men get brutally beating get killed and others are just adversely affected but when the Stranger leaves the town is pretty much in severe disrepair; the killers themselves meet their end...some of them in the same manner as those that they killed and the town and Duncan seemed to have been avenged. So, all of these actions at least come to some sort of an aim...some sort of a purpose that I can somewhat identify with.

The rape on the other hand, I cannot identify with. Is rape worse than murder Doug well in many cases I'd say yes it is. If we're going to have the death penalty for cold blooded murder than rape should fall into that same category. It's a very violent and very controlling type of action. And that's why I don't understand it? If Stranger is indeed sent to avenget the murder of Duncan and really only uses violence when violence has been committed against him or when the threat of violence is present (as in the barber shop) than why the completely unjustified rape? Yeah, well I don't buy this she asked for it crap that people are saying these days there is absolutely no justification whatsoever for forcing yourself sexually on another person. Absolutely none. I know you're not defending the action and are ony using this expression to try to explain the scene in the movie with a type of modern context Doug but that still doesn't do it for me.

But what about my other question? The fact of the flashbacks coming through Mordecai and Stranger? I'd like to explain that more as well....


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