it’s between this and shane for my favorite western of all time. i think the edge goes to shane because, though they are similar in a lot of ways, the main character here is a dark and reluctant hero. ultimately i suppose i prefer the mysterious, but altruistic hero that shane represents. far country’s vision of humanity is one i think is probably more closely aligned with reality, but shane is a more hopeful film. far country is a beautiful film with a great supporting cast and an excellent screenplay.
stewart’s character (jeff) doesn’t turn toward the common good until he sees what it’s like to be powerless. ultimately self-sufficiency belongs solely to the strongest among us. through most of the film jeff is the best shot around so he can pretty much get along on his own. by film’s end, though, he doesn’t have that edge and realizes what the others have gone through for so long. still, i think revenge was the primary fuel for his decision to take a stand, but sympathy figured in there somewhere too.