Pale Rider



“And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him.” (Revelation 6:8)

Pale Rider (1985, rated R, 115 minutes) goes a bit deeper than your usual Clint Eastwood action thriller.

As “the preacher,” Eastwood creates a mostly low-key character who mostly waxes philosophic about life and its vicissitudes, but also persistently urges the good guys to do some good, and (you’re not surprised) straps on his big pistol when he needs it. The beleaguered “tin pan” miners, emboldened by the “preacher,” battle the vicious takeover attempts by the big bad rich guy, and you can guess who savors victory.

There’s an almost completely platonic love interest with the mother, Sarah (Carrie Snodgress is divinely demure), and 15-year-old Megan (Sydney Penny) learns a lot about unrequited love. Pale Rider invites you to look into the hearts of realistic people.

The obvious allusion to Revelation 6:8 (“…behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death…”) is puzzling. The preacher is not apocalyptic, there is no hint of theology in his role, and he mysteriously and provocatively rides away into the mountains at the last minute, leaving everyone else to resume their lives.


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Read the book Shane by Jack Schaefer, which inspired the movie Pale Rider


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