Thursday, October 30, 2008

HPD: Clint Spooks 'Em Location

Halloweener #7

(GPS: N37° 55.510 W119° 02.540)

This is a case of a movie location that when you are there you know you are in the right place, but a lot of the area has changed over the years. I wanted to show this one because although a lot of people now know where "Lago" is from the movie they may drive right by this one. It just happens to be one of the best scenes in the movie. The area has changed since the movie was made. Some mining has taken place over the area that is probably the cause of the changes. Much like the dynamite Clint uses in this scene, it does look like it has been hit with explosives. The changes seem more from man than nature. I did the following video on October 31st, 2008:

Both times I was here I went without movie stills and just used my memory of how I remembered the scene. From looking at these pictures I would have to movie down and forward to match them up. The passage that the guy on the horse goes through to get to the outlaws is there, but in my picture does not seem like it due to the overgrowth. You should be able to match up the background features.
The outlaws are inside of the pit as I like to call it, and Clint is supposed to be "hiding" and planting dynamite in the distance over that hump.
As I said above, I know this is the exact same object from the movie, yet it does not really look the same.
Clint mysteriously appears on the other side. I said a bunch of times in the video that I was not sure if it was the very top (near the saddle) or in the middle of the following picture. Keep in mind a lot of what you see in this scene with the editing and camera work does not mean Clint was really up there. What it looks like they did was just add a lot of shots together to make it look like he was up here and the other side we started on.
My picture shows you more of the middle to the right side of the above picture. The movie pictures make this place seem like it was a lot bigger to me compared to when I was there.

As I finish up these last few entries on High Plains Drifter I wanted to include some quotes from Clint Eastwood on the location. The following is taken from Clint Eastwood: Interviews by Clint Eastwood, Robert E. Kapsis, and Kathie Coblentz (Mississippi University Press, 1999):

Quote #1 (Pgs. 100-101):

The interviewer says, "There is something of the infernal in the iconography of High Plains Drifter, a tonality of fire and scorched earth."

Clint Responds:
"That's due in part to the place where we filmed it, Mono Lake in California. The town in the script was situated in the middle of the desert, like in most Westerns, but this convention bothered me because even in the West a city couldn't develop without water. I discovered Mono Lake by chance, while I was out driving around, and I was immediately taken with the strangeness of the site. The saline content is so high that no vessel can risk going out on the waters of the lake. I spent two hours wandering around in the area. Not a boat, nor a living soul, only the natural noises of the desert. From the nearest city I immediately called my art director and had him jump on the first plane. When he arrived, he blurted out, 'you'd think you were on the moon!' I told him, 'It's a wierd place, but that's exactly what I want this story to be!'"

Quote #2 (P. 69):

"High Plains Drifter, basically a morality play, also benefits considerably, if not definitively, by the location, the Mono Lake district of northeastern California. The story was originally situated in Monument Valley, the grandiose site of so many John Ford films, but Eastwood says, 'that wouldn't have provided the same mood I got from the story. I needed a place that would correspond with the mood and Mono Lake is what I finally found. It's a dead lake. It has some very interesting outcropppings and the colors almost change moment by moment, so it gave the film and elusive quality."

I completely agree with the above quotes. To create this type of spooky western he went to the right spot to do it. Some of the traditional locations would not have worked as well. I would not say the location is the most beautiful of the places I go to, but it is a unique one for what is a very unique and special western. In the next blog entry I will do something on Panum Crator which is right behind this location.

Clint Spooks 'Em (Youtube Version)

Clint Spooks 'Em (Vimeo Version)