Clint Eastwood is a Hollywood icon, with five Academy Awards, five Golden Globes, and numerous other accolades for his work as an actor, director, producer, and composer. Yet because he rose to fame in "spaghetti westerns" and Dirty Harry shoot-em-ups, few critics have ventured to explore Eastwood's philosophical, ethical, and artistic agenda as an intellectual filmmaker.
Addressing this void, film scholar Sara Anson Vaux analyzes fifteen of Eastwood's best-known films from narrative, artistic, and thematic perspectives. She traces the nuanced development of Eastwood's unfolding moral vision over a forty-year continuum, showing how this vision has grown more sophisticated even as many of the motifs expressing it--justice, confession, war and peace, the gathering, the search for a perfect world--have remained the same.
Vaux has built new bridges between religion and film that will stand for years to come.
-Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Engaging, fluent, and original, this book is a 'must-read' for film scholars, movie enthusiasts, and anyone interested in Clint Eastwood's films. Covering over forty years of his creative cinematic work, Sara Anson Vaux provides an insightful account of Eastwood's films and his journey from Spaghetti Westerns, via Pacific war movies, to more recent productions such as Mystic River, Million Dollar Baby, and Gran Torino. Vaux provides fresh and thought-provoking perspectives on Eastwood's ethical vision.
author of Media Violence and Christian Ethics
A beautifully written, challenging, erudite--while also deeply personal and moving--engagement with Eastwood and his films. The precision of Vaux's writing is matched by the wisdom and the penetrating theological eye that she brings to this study...I liked this book enormously. It bridges the popular and academic terrain, and together with all of her learned musings presents a deeply contemplative and compassionate insight into how Eastwood's films have changed her.
author of Theology and Film: Challenging the Sacred/Secular Divide
This lavish and articulate hymn of praise to one of Hollywood's greatest film directors lets us experience Clint Eastwood's films anew through the dual lens of ethics and transcendence.
-Rose Pacatte, FSP
award-winning film journalist and author
Clint Eastwood is a film actor and director of international distinction. Vaux is not only one of his many fans but also an insightful commentator on his work...This book will push many back to the films for another look.
Long an American icon, Clint Eastwood, the filmmaker, has brought to his distinctive storytelling style an increasing empathy for the outcast, the loser, the immigrant. At once engaging and perceptive, comprehensive yet personal, Vaux's unpacking of Eastwood's commitment to the intrinsic worth of every person is masterful. It is hard to imagine a better reflection on Eastwood's movies.
-Robert K. Johnston
author of Reel Spirituality
How is it possible that the guy who played Dirty Harry in all those violent films has such a keen ethical vision? While Eastwood gained fame in front of the camera as an actor, it is his behind-the-camera work that Vaux (Finding Meaning at the Movies), a professor of religious studies at Northwestern University, addresses in wonderfully knowledgeable and insightful ways. Her analysis of Eastwoods films is thorough, but never muddled by burdensome technical language. She deals with the more well known films, such as Unforgiven and Mystic River, but she also delves into such lesser known but equally compelling works as Changeling and Bird. Vaux approaches these films by drawing out the universal spiritual themes of life, death, redemption, and reconciliation, and illustrates how Eastwood adroitly addresses them with more subtlety than some of the blunt characters hes played. She wisely observes that Eastwood the director has an uncanny sense of human nature and the myriad ways people are joined together in love and divided by fear. Vaux has built new bridges between religion and film that will stand for years to come. (Oct.)Copyright 2011 Reed Business Information.