Costanza Salvi (Bologna University), “John Ford’s Cavalry Trilogy: American Imperialism or Irish Republicanism?”

Réalisation : 15 novembre 2018 Mise en ligne : 15 novembre 2018
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Loosely based on James Warner Bellah’s storiespublished on Saturday Evening Post, Fort Apache (1948), She Wore aYellow Ribbon (1949), and Rio Grande (1950) are pervaded with ajingoism totally associated with military life and community as well as the ideaof expansion and taming of the frontier. But if we look at the opera isolatingthe numerous references to Irish history and traditions, its problematicalnature appears. The adherence to stage-Irish conventions and ethnic humor,although read differently by many scholars defending its ambiguity anddeconstructive power, might be considered a consequence – if not directexpression – of the already mentioned imperialism. Still, we can say that astrong hibernophilia is concealed behind it: the Irishmen in the trilogy aredepicted as loyal officers, blessed with flexibility and acumen compared to thefoolishness and prejudices of the snobbish Bostonians (Fort Apache). Theheroism of General Philip Sheridan or LtCol Myles Keogh – aggrandized with folktunes celebrating the Fenian movement (The Bold Fenian Men in RioGrande or Garry Owen in Yellow Ribbon) – thwarts theunilateral celebration of American imperialism with an assertion of theglorious history of the Irish rebellion against England, and the romanticvision of it Ford conveyed in other films.

In this light, the Trilogy, with a proclaimedidealistic view of Ford’s homeland, can be considered a clue of the releasedtensions between U.S. and Ireland after the troubles triggered by the policy ofIrish neutrality during the World War II, a disrupting force on theAnglo-American alliance. With the Republic of Ireland Act approved in 1948, thesearch of identity was finally concluded and the unease dissolved. So, if weinvestigate the Trilogy assuming a transnational perspective, the monolithicassumption about its imperialism appears rectified not just in terms ofcontents – in light of Ford’s strong Irish Republicanism – but also in terms ofgenres: in a sheer Western (American) horizon, a tinge of music and comedyappears, both having an intense Irish tone. 

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Université Paul Valéry Montpellier 3 Site Saint Charles
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Citer cette ressource:
EMMA. (2018, 15 novembre). Costanza Salvi (Bologna University), “John Ford’s Cavalry Trilogy: American Imperialism or Irish Republicanism?”. [Vidéo]. Canal-U. (Consultée le 26 juin 2022)

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