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The Western Film Genres Evolution

This prezi covers themes of woman's place in the western genre and also race in the western genre.
by

Conor Ackhurst

on 20 March 2013

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Transcript of The Western Film Genres Evolution

The Western Genres Evolution Western Genre Characteristics Iconography of Images Recurring images are apparent throughout the western genre. Things such as:
Long sprawling desert landscapes featuring cactus and horses. A prop that is commonly affiliated with the genre is the revolver. That these are the visual aspects that are connected to the genre says a great deal about the lonely and violent world the depict. The Characters The characters in western genres are distinctive but that is not to say that they have not changed and developed over time.
They have always been men, in a classical sense. Strong, knowing of the land, emotionally stunted.
This development has changed them to being more detached, cold and at ease with brutal violence. Narrative Basic conflicts show the battle between good and evil, the lawman against the outlaw. The cowboy as outsider, as a lone, heroic figure fighting the forces of lawlessness. Others are about revenge against a foul doing in the past that shows the west to be an brutal and unforgiving land. Themes The Western explores the frontier myths of America – the battle to tame the wilderness and bring law and order to the West. The genre explores how gun law operated in the West and how personal revenge and the individual ethic of ‘a man’s go to do what a man’s got to do’ came up against the values of the community. The Lone Gunfighter/
Cowboy/
Lawmen/
Good The Villain/
Lawmen/
Evil The Loyal Wife/
Damsel The Posse/
Good or Bad The Portrayal of Women in the Wild Western Women in the West are constantly depicted negatively or made into background figures, they hold little significance to the story.
Even though they are still portrayed in this way in the latest of the films I have studied "Unforgiven" 1992, they show strength, unseen in earlier Western films. There are anomalies of this but as they are so rare, even today, they do not seem to contribute to the overall evolution of the western.

Shows a woman emerging from the shadows of the home as she waits for the return of a man. There is symbolism in this, showing the weakness of woman against this environment and an inability to cope without their man. In The Good the Bad and the Ugly, women are entirely side lined. A great example of this would be 7:45 - 8:58 in the scene the 'Bad' arrives to assassinate a man. The Searchers opening shot...
This shows how women are considered as meer props in the film. In the scene the mans wife is the carer of the child and takes him away. Her eye contact say a lot about her character. They dart back and forth from the ground to her husband and back again. This 'putting down' of woman possibly stems from its Italian roots, and their culture influencing the American history. Unforgiven is part of a far more progressive and contemporary group of Western films that show women in a different light.

Instead of them being props that have no attention paid, in Unforgiven they are still instruments for releasing sexual frustration within the society but the film shows them as more powerful. It also challenges the idea that they are equal to men. The Representation of Races Other than Caucasian in the Western Genre Unforgiven's warping of the Hero David Webb Peoples, the writer of Unforgiven (1992), took the concept of the concrete hero that is very common in the Western. Peoples reverts this and has the audience falsely leaded for a long period. Once the film finally establishes this as Clint Eastwood's character it again, not stated by Eastwood in the above video, throws this again with the questionable decisions of the hero. He achieves his goals but the process is not morally justifiable. He finally makes a final stand at heroism in an iconic Western gun battle. In the western genre black, Mexican and Native Americans have always been represented in a negative light just like woman they have been the target of discrimination. In the same way women were typecast as whores or housewives; black people are frequently slaves to wealthier white people. Native Americans on the most part retain their freedom however this is a fast narrowing landscape that they can call their own. Mexican people are frequently displayed as less intelligent in many respects but they can also come across as cunning.

As times have moved on to recent and current day the role of black people have developed to one that depends more on the moral stance of the main character. The Native Americans have always been considered uncivilized like the black people, but have a more untameable nature, where as black people can be beaten into submission. The black people were taken from there homes mainly in Africa, they are in a foreign land, unlike Native Americans who know the land better than the white people. This is important to remember in the light of films such as The Searchers. The Searchers is a film that focuses less on black people and mainly on the Native Americans. The film puts them down in many ways.
The main character played by John Wayne who shows a disgust for 'half brides' of Native Americans. In the film he serves as an aged wisdom that appears out of date in the beginning of the film but then proves to be right about the enemy of their happy family when their home is burnt to the ground by them.

The Clip depicts the Native Americans ready to
attack and making war chants. Whilst this is happening the idiotic white man mocks them while sitting next to a 'half breed' who he is fighting with, this mockery serves to show the stupidity of the white men being capable of being lower then theirs. Main Focuses of this Study Women's Representation in the Western Genre The Representation of Races Other than Caucasian in the Western Genre 1> The Western Genre has always been primarily dominated by the American market from the beginning of the genre, this is understandable as the genre is solely set in America. My Focus Films In order of release: The Searchers (1956) The Good, The Bad and The Ugly (1966) Unforgiven (1992) Northern America was
an easy location for winter scenes other than sound studios in California. During the period of 1960 and 1980 over six hundred European Western films were created. This was the peak of their production in the EU, and also when "The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly" (1966) The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly comments on race with a different approach. There are three main characters in the film, one is mexican, he is referred to as "The Ugly", although he plays a much bigger role than a mexican character usually might he is dim witted, lazy and ugly. This depiction of a mexican man only fuels the stereotype of their culture.

The clip shows the introduction to "The Ugly" or Tuco's character. in the opening it very clearly shows him to disregard the decency of traditional gun battles, he lurks in the dark saloon and waits for his pray. When he does emerge he jumps through a window rather than using the door, displaying savageness and also stupidity. In his hand is a leg of meat. Places the Western Genre have been shot (Relevant to this Study) Unforgiven tries very hard to avoid the acknowledgment of race for a long time, offering a back story that the gunslinger (Clint Eastwood) was once partners with another former gunslinger (Morgan Freeman).
Although the story is convincing the audience is required to watch the film with a 'suspension of disbelief', a phrase coined by the poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge, he suggested that this can be achieved by "human interest and a semblance of truth".
The relationship between Morgan Freeman and Clint Eastwood is questionable, but what is even harder to believe our the whores and others who seem not to notice the colour of his skin, this is something that at the time would simply not be excepted.

The clip shows a friendship that goes back many years. It also shows even Morgan Freeman's demise is not because of his race but one that is a result his occupation. Morgan is using the gun. 2> The Spaghetti Western was conceived to supply the demand of the western film for all its glory at depicting the epic American landscape but more importantly their attitude to life. Ironically to supply this growing demand films started to be shot in Spain, Almeria and financed in Italy. This is what gave them the name Spaghetti Western's. Almeria can double very smoothly as the American landscape. Like with all film making there is a level of trickery involved in there location, this still very prominent in the western genre. In Conclusion To conclude the two main focuses of the study show that the Western genre has only ever evolved in accordance to society. In the period The Searchers was released, woman's and other races rights were still unequal. Over time this changed and with that the story's of the west changed, introducing less negative rolls for woman and races other than Caucasians, such as in Unforgiven. To watch the films side by side allows for an understanding of society at the time. It is the time that dictates the depiction on screen.
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