As Lusted notes, the Gunfighter Western was one of the first of the genre to be interested “in the process of change” (Lusted 210). Instead of focusing on such themes as the collective effort of westward expansion, like many of John Ford’s Westerns (Schatz 70-71), the Gunfighter “turns the genre and its hero inside out,” (Schatz 71) and takes a more introspective look at how violence can be found at the core of social order. To do this, the focus shifts away from films that play on the ...
Few Hollywood film makers have captured America’s Wild West history as depicted in the movies, Rio Bravo and El Dorado. Most Western movies had fairly simple but very similar plots, including personal conflicts, land rights, crimes and of course, failed romances that typically led to drinking more alcoholic beverages than could respectfully be consumed by any one person, as they attempted to drown their sorrows away. The 1958 Rio Bravo and 1967 El Dorado Western movies directed by Howard Hawks, and starring John Wayne have a similar theme and plot. They tell the story of a sheriff and three of his deputies, as they stand alone against adversity in the name of the law. Western movies like these two have forever left a memorable and lasting impressions in the memory of every viewer, with its gunfighters, action filled saloons and sardonic showdowns all in the name of masculinity, revenge and unlawful aggressive behavior. Featuring some of the most famous backdrops in the world ranging from the rustic Red Rock Mountains of Monument Valley in Utah, to the jagged snow capped Mountain tops of the Teton Range in Wyoming, gun-slinging cowboys out in search of mischief and most often at their own misfortune traveled far and wide, seeking one dangerous encounter after another, and unfortunately, ending in their own demise.
Since the dawn of cinema, the mythos embodied by westerns have maintained a hold over many a captivated audience, containing magnificent vistas, glorified violence, and the age old struggle of man vs. wild. As do many westerns, John Ford's 1956 masterpiece The Searchers, opens with a lone rider set against the backdrop of a vast, unknown wilderness. Settling into your seat, you might expect more of the tried and true formula that defines a western in this era, a well defined hero to be aspired to, acting as the last bastion of culture against the encroaching chaos that is the wild, untamed frontier. While The Searchers conforms to the conventional western theorem, the film ponders issues of race, integration, and interracial relationships as seen through the eyes of a man living beyond the era he knows. Breaking ground for future films to investigate and criticize current social issues through the medium of film.
The enduring cultural expressions of the frontier were adapted into unique narrative traditions known as the “Western”. The Western genre portrays a story of conquest, competing visions of the land, and the quintessential American frontier hero who is usually a gunfighter or a cowboy. These Western archetypes can be observed in, The Outlaw Josey Wales, a film that employs revenge motifs that lead into and extended chase across the West and touches on the social and cultural issues of the American frontier.
Western films are the major defining genre of the American film industry, a eulogy to the early days of the expansive American frontier. They are one of the oldest, most enduring and flexible genres and one of the most characteristically American genres in their mythic origins - they focus on the West - in North America. Western films have also been called the horse opera, the oater (quickly-made, short western films which became as common place as oats for horses), or the cowboy picture. The western film genre has portrayed much about America's past, glorifying the past-fading values and aspirations of the mythical by-gone age of the West. Over time, westerns have been re-defined, re-invented and expanded, dismissed, re-discovered, and spoofed. But, most western movies ideas derived from characteristics known to the Native Americans and Mexicans way before the American culture knew about it. What you probably know as a good old western American movie originated from a culture knows as vaqueros (cowboys for Spanish). They are many misrepresentations of cultures and races shown throughout movies from as early as 1920's with silent films. Although one could argue that silent film era was more politically correct then now a day films, the movie industry should not have the right of misrepresenting cultures of Mexicans, Indians and there life styles in films known as western films.
In the 1930's Native Americans and women were viewed as inferior races. The films produced during the early part of the 20th century, particularly those starring John Wayne reflected these societal attitudes. The portrayal of minorities in Stagecoach and Fort Apache clearly reflect the views of society at that time. The depiction of the West is similar to that which is found in old history textbooks, em...
The Wild West is idealized as a time period in which different people had specific roles such as cattle herders, miners, and sheriffs and villains. These people portrayed these roles with such enthusiasm that it seemed over exaggerated and many stories were therefore created. The movies that were created over the years have not always been as accurate as the history books have recorded. Even the history books have conflicting accounts as to what actually happened to the cowboys of the Wild West. Some of the greatest stories ever told and turned into movies were the stories about the gunman cowboys.
The story of the American West is still being told today even though most of historic events of the Wild West happened over more than a century ago. In movies, novels, television, and more ways stories of the old west are still being retold, reenacted, and replayed to relive the events of the once so wild and untamed land of the west that so many now fantasize about. After reading about the old west and watching early westerns it is amazing how much Hollywood still glorifies the history and myth of the old west. It may not be directly obvious to every one, but if you look closely there is always a hint of the Western mentality such as honor, justice, romance, drama, and violence. The most interesting thing about the Old West is the fact that history and myth have a very close relationship together in telling the story of the West.
In “The Thematic Paradigm,” University of Florida professor of film studies, Robert Ray, defines two types of heroes pervading American films, the outlaw hero and the official hero. Often the two types are merged in a reconciliatory pattern, he argues. In fact, this
In the article “The Thematic Paradigm” exerted from his book, A Certain Tendency of the Hollywood Cinema, Robert Ray provides a description of the two types of heroes depicted in American film: the outlaw hero and the official hero. Although the outlaw hero is more risky and lonely, he cherishes liberty and sovereignty. The official hero on the other hand, generally poses the role of an average ordinary person, claiming an image of a “civilized person.” While the outlaw hero creates an image of a rough-cut person likely to commit a crime, the official hero has a legend perception. In this essay, I will reflect on Ray’s work, along with demonstrating where I observe ideologies and themes.