The film is like many those that Clint Eastwood stars in, deep and long exposition shots with terse dialogue. Within the first five minutes, he kills three, and rapes a fourth.
Rare that a protagonist appears so brutal so fast, we quickly learn that his own role, and the role of the town are less clear than first appears. The action in the film moves quickly, despite the long exposition and lack of clarity regarding how the elements of the story move toward the climax.
The film is not overtly supernatural, but there are elements that make one question the reality on display, and the ending leaves a bigger question than it answers. The straightforward plot but opaque backstory, paired with the use of color, music, and symbolism meant that there always seemed to be another layer.
One line in particular was thought provoking. When he is warned that because he makes others afraid, he is dangerous, he replied that the fear in others was simply a reflection of what they knew about themselves. In real life with others, and in politics, this is often true, as our hatred often reveals our own darkest fears and inadequacies.
It has the depth required for a violent Western.
A compelling film that stands the test of time well since 1973.
Rating: Five ears.