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Western Movies

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Cico Tsang

on 17 April 2014

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Transcript of Western Movies


Today's Western movie:
A new page, or death of the genre?
(New elements/Not revealing reality)
Historical, social and geographical background
Tied to social and historical reality
Setting : the American West(defined generally as the land west of the Mississippi)
Time: 1860s(the end of the American Civil War)-early 20th century
historical reality:
had been “processed” for popular consumption, by writers, painters, self-styled purveyors of their own mythology
yield to romanticized, formulaic treatment
the genre has a formula of narrative structure
Features of Western movies
Classical Westerns
Revisionist Westerns
Contemporary Westerns

tendency towards:
psychological depth
de-mythologization of the old west
vindicate Native Americans
Used realistic mode to represent the movie
decrease in romanticism
->did not romanticize big hero
include some social issues
e.g.race, racism, power domination , ethnicity

Kurosawa was influenced by American Westerns and was a fan of the genre, most especially John Ford

the Japanese samurai films
The Magnificent Seven : Kurosawa's Seven Samurai,
A Fistful of Dollars : Kurosawa's Yojimbowhich itself (was inspired by Red Harvest)

From the Classical
to the Contemporary
-A Fading Genre:Westerns

Historical Background
Features and evolution of Western movies
Classical Westerns
Revisionist Westerns
Contemporary Westerns
By Karena, Kin, Cico
The Great Train Robbery
(Edwin S. Porter,1903)
Classical Western
Spaghetti Western
mid 1960s and early 1970s
question the ideals and style of the traditional Western
subvert the whole genre
a darker, more cynical and extreme tone
focus on the lawlessness of the time period
favoring realism over romanticism
Revisionist Westerns/Anti Westerns
Demystifying the western
Old West-type characters struggling with displacement and values in a "civilized" world that rejects their outdated brand of justice
reveal the progression of the Old West mentality into the late 20th and early 21st centuries
Contemporary Western
directed by Quentin Tarantino
Bounty hunter
present excessive violence
-> push to the extreme to make it funny
a black man is the protagonist
->symbolic but not realistic
looks like the triumph of freedom over slavery
but ignore the factual event of slavery
build fantasies on historical foundation
adventure, bravado
an elemental conflict with antagonists-lawlessness, evil
clear binary between justice and evil
i.e. civilization VS savagery
East VS West
America VS Europe
Garden VS Desert
Social order VS anarchy
Individual VS community
Town VS wilderness
Cowboy VS Native Americans
Schoolmarm VS Dancehall Girl
Evolution of Western Movies
"Dollars Trilogy"
A Fistful of
For a Few
The Good,the bad and the ugly
Once Upon a Time in the West
produced and directed by Italians
low-budget,low-profit,but the easiest way to success
dealt with overtly political
Theme: Revenge, Dispute,
criticise Western capitalism
i.e. the movie name
increasingly positive representation of Native Americans /sympathetic portrayal
question the simple hero-versus-villain dualism and the morality of using violence to test one's character or to prove oneself right
Dances with wolves (1990)

Psychological Western
Acid Western
Dead Man(1995)
-depiction in conflicts
-detail portrait of Kane's psychological change
-law and system in civilized society
Will stares at the crowd, contemptuously throws his marshal's star in the dirt, and leaves town with Amy.
-Kane against the selfish people
-renounce the society
Django Unchained, 2012
A Fading Genre: Westerns?
subvert earlier Westerns
become a brand new sub-genre after lost of origin
hanker a crazed version of Westerns
destruct the white-America Westerns
similar to the Spaghetti Westerns and the values of the counter-culture in 1960s-1970s
directed by Jim Jarmusch
Acid Western
Intimate relationship with wolves->nature
Native Americans were stereotyped in Classical Westerns
portray as:
uncivilized villain
While "Dances with Wolves" represent
Close to nature
Civilization became destructive
Self criticized by White
Own Culture dominance
But still contain Orientalism & Post-Colonialism
Still White Men centered
Project ideal to minority of others to construct with contemporary
As a self-remedy

Subvert the western
-Not romanticize big hero image
-change in historical context
-question the binary between justice and evil
-positive representation of minority eg. Native Americans
-breaking rule: black as protagonist-symbolic
Standard Formula of Western Movies

White protagonist: cowboy hero
Minorities served in submissive roles, e.g. Native Americans
Antagonists are definite evil

North American continent
small towns, uncivilized frontier, prairie, mountains, or desert
never big city
Reference List
Cinema Discourse
A forum for film and media discussion-Notes on the Western Genre - 'High Noon'
What Django Unchained Got Wrong: A Review From National Museum of African American History and Culture Director Lonnie Bunch
Django Unchained and the Pleasures of Postmodern History
Cinema Discourse-Notes on the Western Genre - 'High Noon'
Dark Side Of The West: 17 Truly Grim Westerns
Revisionist Westerns/Anti Westerns
Revisionist Western
Clint Eastwood
Dances with Wolves
Django Unchained(2012)
Spaghetti Western
Revisionist Western
Revisionist Western
Revisionist Western
Classical Western
Dances with wolves

Directed by Fred Zinnemann
character-driven dramas
focus on the inner struggles
use the grandness of the American southwest as landscape
simple stories about outlaws with a minimum of action
High Noon(1952)
Full transcript