Ford regarded this as one of his finest films, and there is something to the spare, almost cold, cinematography of the landscape that holds the eye. The theme is the establishment of community, in this case Mormon settlers heading for the promised land in Utah, knowing what hardship is before them. Beyond this, there is almost no narrative. With the landscape as the source of reality, there are illustrations of good, through the Navajo, and evil, through a family gang of thieves and murderers. The visual discourse on the dust of the plain, the waters of the rivers, and the wagons and the horses is what is the fundamental subject of the film; and, in this, it succeeds.