The Searchers is John Ford’s most complex western, inspired by Cynthia Ann Parker’s abduction and her Uncle James Parker’s quest to find her. The film focuses on numerous issues, none more important than the racist hatred that drives the main character, Ethan Edwards (John Wayne), through the course of his five-year search for his kidnapped niece. His hatred is matched by that of his Comanche alter ego, Scar, who in part embodies much of the power that Quanah Parker represented in historical fact. The clash of these two characters is one of the primary focal points of the film and shapes the external and internal landscapes of this epic film.
Joseph K. Heumann is professor emeritus of communication studies at Eastern Illinois University and still teaches various film courses. He co-authored four books with Robin L. Murray: Ecology and Popular Film: Cinema on the Edge (SUNY Press, 2009), That’s All Folks?: The Ecology of the American Animated Feature (U. Nebraska Press, 2011), Gunfight at the Eco-Corral: Western Cinema and the Environment (U. Oklahoma Press, 2012), and Film and Everyday Ecodisasters (U. Nebraska Press, 2014). They are currently working on a manuscript exploring monstrous nature. They also maintain an ecocinema and film genre blog: http://ecocinema.blogspot.com/. Heumann earned a B.A. from Knox College and an M.A. from the University of Iowa.