High Noon & The Lone Hero
by Aaron Rockwell
Screenwriter, American Homestead
In the traditional movie blueprint often the protagonist has a guardian or consultant who acts as a guide…someone older and wiser who knows the ropes and provides an outlet for exposition. We can see this in Westerns: Butch and Sundance. Bart and Jim. Cisco Kid and Poncho. And of course, there are others…Luke Skywalker has Obi-Wan Kenobi. Marty McFly has Doc Brown. Even James Bond has Q to provide him with a gadget or stern lecture.
One example that breaks this norm (and a favorite of ours at A Lazy H) is High Noon. This is a film highlighting the lack of this companionship and the perils of society without protection in the early days of the western frontier. The law was scarce during the formation of the West, and Hadleyville - the town where High Noon takes place - is no different. Only one man, Will Kane (Gary Cooper), is designated as the town’s protector. He is tempted leave Hadleyville when the goins get rough, but instead decides to protect the townsfolk he has grown to love…because despite what loners say - no man is an island. Unlike more traditional archetypes, he has no support and must act as his own guardian and mentor. This challenge makes Will Kane’s character arc more powerful because he ends up filling two roles – hero and guardian.
The character development in High Noon is similar to what our protagonists have done in American Homestead. Mary - the strong and independent homesteader – relies on little but her own wit and strength to create a viable home and survive the hardships of frontier life. Likewise, Mary’s brother Jonathan whose once troubled past is alone to negotiate the path of redemption, as his once-guardian-figure Sam is dead. Like High Noon, both characters evolve, adapt and go through tremendous character development to accommodate for the lack of companionship…a feat that only makes them stronger.