What's the theme in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962)?

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Reader Question:
What's the theme in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962)?

There are various points of view about this.

Some points of view circle around the law, it's value and it's civilising impact.

It is Ransom Stoddard's (James Stewart's) belief in the value of the law, which causes Liberty Valance (Lee Marvin) such ire and triggers the initial beating.

It is Tom Doniphon's (John Wayne's) belief that the law has no place in the West, which is the basis of one arc. It is a point of view he lets go off - when he tells Ransom Stoddard that he shot Liberty Valance, he is encouraging Ransom to accept the nomination (therefore implicitly accepting that the law does have a place).

Tom Doniphon also consistently refers to Ransom Stoddard as "pilgrim," indicating that this is a civilising force, come to bring order to chaos.

There is ambiguity in the fact that Ransom Stoddard does learn to shoot and that Tom Doniphon illegally shot Liberty Valance, thus pulling away from the idea that the law is always sufficient. Thus the theme may circle around the idea that sometimes the law is not enough.

Another point of view centres around a different concept: that of legends. 

Tom Doniphon's is the true killer of Liberty Valance, he is the true legend but has been forgotten - getting a low-key, unknown, pauper's burial. It is the question "who was Tom Doniphon," which triggers the story.

Learn more about Kal Bashir's 2000+ stage Hero's Journey And Transformation Through A New World / State at http://www.clickok.co.uk/index4.html

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