Blood Credits’ chase wears out his character, who collapses before catching up with the culprit. He becomes a cantankerous old man in Gran Torino, muttering and grumbling, his face still contorted, his eyebrows eternally furrowed – a film in which, at the age of seventy-eight, he stages his own death98.
Over time, Eastwood turns the aging of his face into a true vehicle of fiction, even in films he does not direct such as through In Sight. In 1995, the filmmaker Luc Moullet wrote about this106:
“From Pale Rider, what you mostly see on Eastwood’s face is his impressive vein to the right of the forehead. It expresses a life marked by the trials, the years, and the fragility of human existence: one always has the impression that this vein will burst, threatening the days of the sniper infinitely more than his armed opponents until teeth. This temporal vein, a little combined work of make-up artist and operator would have been enough to make it disappear in our eyes, which would have required all the stars in the world, except Eastwood. We even have the impression that he does everything to ensure that we see him, and that we only see her. During the interviews carried out by television during the American film festival in Deauville, we did not even notice her. “
The filmmaker also accentuates the wrinkles on his face by using chiaroscuro92,89. In Space Cowboys, Eastwood even goes so far as to give the leading roles to older actors92.
The filmmaker has made a specialty of alternating ambitious films with projects considered more minor or more entertaining107,108. Eastwood describes himself as a craftsman: “I have always tried to make the best films possible, as a director and as an actor…, but without believing that I was an artist with a capital A. Rather like a very serious craftsman. I approach each step – the script, the direction of the actors, the image, the music – with great attention to detail ”91. If Eastwood is considered a film writer (in opposition to the “director-technician”), the man does not sign his scripts and responds, in this, to a Hollywood tradition of studio cinema109. In fact, the scripts he shoots were often originally intended for other filmmakers: The Exchange was originally a Ron Howard project; Francis Ford Coppola was to direct Impitoyable; Memoirs of Our Fathers, A Perfect World and On the Road to Madison were to be filmed by Steven Spielberg108.
How, then, to apprehend the composite and protean work of Clint Eastwood? The critic Philippe Fraisse wonders110:
The filmmaker’s statements partly corroborate this interpretation: for him, the story counts more than the message111.
The first films of Clint Eastwood, like The Man of the High Plains and Pale Rider, the lonely rider, are imbued with a certain mannerism which one attaches to the cinema of Sergio Leone89,90. But this influence is gradually fading, giving way to more academic formal work. Clint Eastwood’s staging is characterized by its affiliation with Hollywood classicism or neoclassicism87,107,98.