The Quiet Man

John Ford, USA, 1952


John Ford filmed this film in Ireland, where his family had their roots, thus the landscape inspired very lyrical sequences, filmed in the beautifully saturated colours of Technicolor. This scene shows the meeting of the man, returning from a career as a boxer in the USA, with his strong, red-headed love from years before. The man has bought a cottage and settled in the village, but the girl’s brother has forbidden her from having any contact with him.

In the great tradition of romance, the scene brings together excessive natural forces, in this case a violent storm, and the shattered passions that give life to the characters. As the man approaches the cottage there is a moderate wind, but the minute he encounters the woman, the wind really picks up, as if the storm was released by the sheer strength of their passion. Inside the house Ford uses openings, such as windows and doors, to evoke (in a totally synthetic way) the raging storm outside: a window blows open, thanks to a wind machine out of shot, the projection of abstract leaf shapes on the open window. The scene where she tries to run away, and he catches her on the threshold to bring her back inside is one of the great moments of matching weather and emotions together. The wind gusts into the room, making their clothes blow away from one another, separating them from each other, manifesting the strict interdiction that they shall not be together. But this same wind is also the driving force that makes their desire to embrace each other come to fruition. The reds, blues and whites stand out against the darkened depths of the room, clearly show us her dress and the flaming red of her hair, which baroque visual expressions testify to the ever-moving feelings that boil to the surface.