12 July 2008 | tpea1
THE Lost Patrol Reflects Ford's' Philosophy of Life
John Ford's the Lost Patrol probably reflects Ford's views on life in general . Ford knew what he wanted in the way he handles the various actors in their parts and each fulfills their role admirably . Karloff is a bit over the top at times and evidently Ford wanted that . Ford's symbolism is reflected in the setting , the circumstances and the characters and is enhanced by Max Steiners' brilliant score . The characters are a " Grand Hotel " collection , but each having his own views about life and how death meets them.
The setting is Mesopotamia , the original Garden of Eden as pointed out by Karloff . Here is Eden ruined by the fall of man , bleak , barren and deserted .There are only ruins with very little nourishment for sustenance . Death is represented by the unseen Arabs. It strikes without warning or without being seen . It strikes at the most inopportune times . All want an opportunity to fight this unseen enemy that has decimated their ranks.It strikes mercilessly and cruelly and shatters all hope . Man facing his mortality controls nearly all of the discussions and the reminiscing .
The helplessness of man in the midst of his circumstances seems to be Ford's "arch" for this film . This is conveyed by the inability to see the enemy or know when he will strike . He steals the provisions needed to survive and there is no way to retrieve them .The seeming 'victory' of reaching the oasis shatters that illusion after the first night .
One other commented on the anti-Christian ( or religious ) bias of Ford that shows itself in this picture . One strong point that Ford makes is that there is ' no help from above '. The airplane seems to be a sign that help has arrived , but that hope is soon shot down . Then the two men discuss that they know nothing about flying ( read religion ) . Their final act of helplessness and unbelief is to burn the plane . No help is coming from above ( God ) .
I sat spellbound watching Ford weave a masterpiece of a tapestry of symbolism . Here is Ford at the top of his game and illustrating his genius whether you agree with his philosophy or not . This is not just a story ( and it is a great one at that ) , but it is man's response to life . That is where and why the attempted remakes have failed . They see only the struggle and try to focus on that . The struggle against odds has been done in every genre ,so they bring nothing new to the table . Ford used the struggle as a tableau for the deeper struggle of the basic dilemmas of man and life.
I will watch this over and over .