Nicole recently visited the still-standing log cabin used in the 1952 movie Shane. I’ve always enjoyed the film, not only because it’s a good movie, but because it spurs heated debate about the end of the film. The argument that always arises is: Does Shane die at the end?
I’m of the belief that he does die at the end. Not only is it much more, as Nicole puts it, film awesome, but I think there’s actually evidence to support the idea. Before we go on, take a moment to watch the last ten minutes of the film so you can follow along (or go rent and watch the entire movie. If you like westerns, it’s worth it).
After the final gun battle, Joey says, “Shane, it’s bloody. You’re hurt.” Thanks to this line, we know without a doubt that Shane has been shot. Although Shane’s next line is, “I’m alright, Joey,” I don’t think you can really say for sure that he is. After all, he’s talking to a child who idolizes him. Shane knows this, which is why he tells Joey to “grow up to be strong and straight” (a line that, in light of the rampant homo-eroticism in the film, I always find to be hilarious).
While re-watching the end of the film today, I noticed something that I never had before: Joey’s face. After he shouts, “I know she does,” the camera cuts back to Joey and his expression changes from one of hope, to one of confusion. Cut back to the long shot and Shane has slumped over a bit. “Shane!” Joey calls again. Cut back to Joey’s face. From confusion to reluctant acceptance. He knows Shane isn’t ignoring him. He knows Shane is dead.
As Shane rides away, we see him slumped over on his horse, which takes him out of town. But wait! Earlier in the film we learned something important about the ride out of town: It passes through the graveyard. The very last shot of the film is Shane, slumped over on his horse, riding through the graveyard. To me, that’s clear evidence of his death. On top of that, Shane rides right through the graveyard on his way to the fight, foreshadowing his death.
I think it’s important for Shane to die. We need to see his mortality. We need reassurance that’s he’s human. If he’s supernatural, then what he’s just done isn’t very impressive (especially since he got shot doing it). If he’s human, he’s a hero, and someone we can look up to.
But, as with all art, it’s a matter of interpretation. I’ve interpreted the clues we’re given in a way that I feel enhances the film. What do you think?
Update: The definitive answer here is that Shane is not alive, nor is he dead. The film doesn’t give us enough evidence to know either way, so you can’t prove that Shane is alive any more than I can prove that he’s dead. Saying that Shane is dead is my opinion, and opinions can’t be wrong. Unsound logic can be wrong, however, so think before you comment. If you are going to leave a comment, please read through all of the other comments first; I’m getting sick of repeating myself. From now on, I will only respond to comments that provide a satisfactorily new argument.0 People like this. Be the first!