Three close friends are on a desert. One of them is on the ground, dying of thirst. Another one is kneeling next to him, trying to help. The third one seems slightly out-of-touch but his simple gesture is as grand as it gets: He shadows his friend's face with his hat. There's acceptance, distance, but also profound care, and a sense of community.
For those who have doubts that this simple gesture has such great implications, Ford makes his near-cosmic intentions very clear. When his friend is already dead, and Robert is going to lower his hand, ending the gesture, we are left face-to-face with the sun for a very brief moment. Watching this, I remembered the last line of Rossellini's Louis XIV, 'neither the sun, nor death, can be looked at directly'.
When at the end of the film the same gesture is repeated, without the sun, or the death, but a profound joy and a possibility of love (and again, a sense of community), the film comes full circle, from Death to Life. Tag Gallagher talks about 'magic moments', 'especially the finale, when sparkling cutting and framing rhyme swingy girls singing'.