Eagle's Wing

Watch Eagle's Wing

"The west, the way it really was... before the myths were born."
  • PG
  • 1979
  • 1 hr 51 min
  • 5.9  (891)

Eagle's Wing is a 1979 Western film directed by Anthony Harvey, starring Martin Sheen, Sam Waterston, and Harvey Keitel. Set in the late 19th century, the movie tells the story of an Irishman, Pike (Sheen), who finds himself in the New Mexico Territory seeking to obtain a rare wild stallion known as the Eagle's Wing. Pike seeks the horse as a prize for the Army, but soon he becomes embroiled in a fierce competition with another horseman named Henry (Waterston).

The film's story is driven by the personal relationships between the central characters. Pike is a charmer who manages to befriend a Native American woman, the wife of the man who owns the Eagle's Wing. Through notable scenes of gradual trust-building, the two form a friendship as Pike teaches her how to ride. Meanwhile, Henry is a gunslinger, a formidable opponent for any would-be horse thief. He has his eye on the Eagle's Wing as well but sees Pike as a threat.

The two protagonists' meetings are tense and uneasy, with Pike attempting to convince Henry to work together in obtaining the horse. However, as their mutual respect grows, so too does their rivalry, ultimately leading to a showdown between Pike and Henry.

The film's themes resonate with the history of America in the late 1800s, as the nation underwent a period of enormous change. The land is being conquered and subdued, and old traditions are eliminated or severely under threat. Pike observes all of this, though he comes from a foreign land. He sees the frontier coming, and he embraces it, while at the same time trying to get his hands on the Eagle's Wing. Henry, on the other hand, has a much more cynical perspective, seeing only the approaching end.

Eagle's Wing is a study of character and themes rather than action, and works to explore complex moral issues. Despite Sheen's top-billing, Sam Waterston delivers the standout performance as Henry, prowling through the film with a fierce volatility. Martin Sheen is quietly effective as his rival Pike, exuding a natural charm that's impossible to resist. Harvey Keitel also appears in a supporting role, adding his signature intensity to the mix.

At its core, Eagle's Wing is a slow-rolling and elegant movie, one that revels in the haunting beauty of its Southwest landscapes. It's a cerebral Western, a subgenre that examines complicated relationships and ethics rather than the typical action-oriented gunfights. It's a satisfying mix of cultural themes that blends race, gender, and the shift from the old to the new. Director Harvey's masterful style and command of the subject matter make Eagle's Wing well worth watching for those looking for a different kind of Western experience.

Overall, Eagle's Wing is a film that has more going on than initially meets the viewer's eye. Beyond the broad cowboy-and-Indian themes of the Western, Harvey and writer Michael Syson craft a compelling narrative of life in the New West, where old ways fade and new ways arise. The film is an excellent example of how the insidious nature of change has many unintended consequences, and the way people from different backgrounds attempt to come to terms with it. Eagle's Wing may be a forgotten movie that flew under the radar when it was released, but it deserves a closer look for movie-goers who want something with substance, originality, and exquisite precision.

Eagle's Wing is a 1979 western with a runtime of 1 hour and 51 minutes. It has received moderate reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 5.9.

Eagle's Wing
Where to Watch Eagle's Wing
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  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    1 hr 51 min
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    5.9  (891)