Jack Schaeffer’s, Shane, is the perfect embodiment of the Western formula used to create films about the Wild, Wild West. The text has all the necessary elements to create the perfect Western movie. The first component of the formula is a threat to the community that just moved out west, whether it is Indians, other ranchers, or even nature itself. The second component is lack of defense from the community, due to the homesteaders not being able to protect themselves against the threat posed upon them. The third component is the presence of a hero, a single entity that has the skills of the community’s threat, but in turn uses those to help the community. Shane is the ideal film created from the western formula, consisting of a threat, a lack of defense, and a hero. To begin the creation of a western film using the western formula, a threat has to come to …show more content…
From the minute Shane rides up to the Starlett’s house, his poise and character screams mystery and hero. Even little Joey can feel the power of Shane’s presence and “in that short time the kind of magnificence [Joey] had noticed had emerged into plainer view,” (Shane from Literary West, page 180). Shane demonstrates all the necessary elements to protect the homesteaders from the vicious threats of the frontier. “I don’t think you’ve ever had a safer man in your house,” (Shane from Literary West, page 183) says Joe Starlett as he is addressing Marion’s concern for Shane’s mysterious personality. Shane was remarkable with gun fighting, and fortunately enough, exactly what the homesteaders needed in order to defend themselves. “I would see the man and weapon wedded in the one invisible deadliness … doing what had to be done,” (Shane, page 118) expresses Joey as he reflects back on the hero who saved the homesteaders by winning the gunfight and shooting down Wilson, something none of the homesteaders could have ever
Somewhere out in the Old West wind kicks up dust off a lone road through a lawless town, a road once dominated by men with gun belts attached at the hip, boots upon their feet and spurs that clanged as they traversed the dusty road. The gunslinger hero, a man with a violent past and present, a man who eventually would succumb to the progress of the frontier, he is the embodiment of the values of freedom and the land the he defends with his gun. Inseparable is the iconography of the West in the imagination of Americans, the figure of the gunslinger is part of this iconography, his law was through the gun and his boots with spurs signaled his arrival, commanding order by way of violent intentions. The Western also had other iconic figures that populated the Old West, the lawman, in contrast to the gunslinger, had a different weapon to yield, the law. In the frontier, his belief in law and order as well as knowledge and education, brought civility to the untamed frontier. The Western was and still is the “essential American film genre, the cornerstone of American identity.” (Holtz p. 111) There is a strong link between America’s past and the Western film genre, documenting and reflecting the nations changes through conflict in the construction of an expanding nation. Taking the genres classical conventions, such as the gunslinger, and interpret them into the ideology of America. Thus The Western’s classical gunslinger, the personification of America’s violent past to protect the freedoms of a nation, the Modernist takes the familiar convention and buries him to signify that societies attitude has change towards the use of diplomacy, by way of outmoding the gunslinger in favor of the lawman, taming the frontier with civility.
A Western Hero in Shane The western genre plays an important part in the mythologising of American history. The way the western genre and particularly the western hero are put across in such films as Shane, are most likely not how real life in the 1880s was. In Shane the hero arrived on horseback, he was confident, handsome and managed to charm the female character, Marion, almost immediately.
As Ethan rides towards his brother’s homestead, he is greeted by awestruck stares. He rides with the brutal desert behind him, sun glaring at his eyes while his brother’s family is framed in shadow of their own home. A hopeful tune plays in the background as he approaches. In this opening scene of The Searchers John Ford establishes Ethan—played by none other than John Wayne—as the rugged individualist, the one who tames the wilderness. This cowboy is integral to the “Myth of the United States,” he is the one who tames the savage wilderness its residents (Durham). However as the film unfolds, Ford explores Ethan’s tortured psyche, his motivations, his neuroticism, even the Indians and their motivations in order to deconstruct deconstructing the myth in order to show that the cowboy is a relic of the Old West.
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.
Location, characterization and the characters history are the key elements to the Western film genre. According to Stanly Solomon, location is either a simple town, (or settlement) or the wilderness, and both types of locations involve countless attempts to overcome hardships.
You had the lack of law, due to the government not getting there in time, the old style saloons and cowboys, and of course, the ownership and protection of one’s land. Shane really fits everything to how it worked to a T. He took a problem, that he really didn’t have to do, and helped out the poor townsfolk, who really didn’t have anyone to help them. Not to mention, he never had to go and kill Ryker and Wilson, and could of just let them be. But he knew that the problem would never be taken care of unless he took care of them, and left town, thus having to show violence at the plea for
In “The Thematic Paradigm,” Robert Ray explains how there are two vastly different heroes: the outlaw hero and the official hero. The official hero has common values and traditional beliefs. The outlaw hero has a clear view of right and wrong but unlike the official hero, works above the law. Ray explains how the role of an outlaw hero has many traits. The morals of these heroes can be compared clearly. Films that contain official heroes and outlaw heroes are effective because they promise viewer’s strength, power, intelligence, and authority whether you are above the law or below it.
Ever since the early 20th century, there had been several attempts and experimentation in creating a new genre of cinema known as the Western. The first well-known Western movie The Great Train Robbery (1903), while not necessarily being the first ever Western, it is by both film historians and theorists definitely considered the pinnacle of the genre, that got it all started and that would be the first step in creating others similar to it, but also very different. Because it was still an unknown genre in film, there had not yet been established a set of rules as for how to construct films in this new experimental genre so change was to be expected.
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.
When it comes to western genre, the first thing we think about it is cowboys and gun fights which are set around 1800s-1900s. Which does play a major part in the film plots but that’s only one part out of many other plots. Western in the film genre has been proven to have a storyline based on conflicts and confrontation. Nearly all westerns share a central conflict between civilization and wilderness. Civilization is encroaching order, law-enforcement, organized settlements, upstanding citizens, established railroads and cultivated soil. Wilderness is the untamed aspect of the West. A Wide-open country, outlaws, reckless cowboys running free-range cattle and of course Native Americans. When we think of a Classic Western we think of a noble
The development of the Western genre originally had its beginnings in biographies of frontiersmen and novels written about the western frontier in the late 1800’s based on myth and Manifest Destiny. When the film industry decided to turn its lenses onto the cowboy in 1903 with The Great Train Robbery there was a plethora of literature on the subject both in non-fiction and fiction. The Western also found roots in the ‘Wild West’ stage productions and rodeos of the time. Within the early areas of American literature and stage productions the legend and fear of the west being a savage untamed wilderness was set in the minds of the American people. The productions and rodeos added action and frivolity to the Western film genre.
In past westerns, the audience was intrigued by the outlaw. Eastwood changes the perspective of the audience by showing the dark side violence with a well written script by David Webb Peoples, natural landscape and lighting. We are saddened that Munny relapsed to his violent behavior and he is unforgiven, by showing his guilt ridden soul and heart. Eastwood reignited his career and western genre by revisiting the cold-blooded violent westerns of his past and creating a dark perspective.
The storyline is normally about a hero who comes to a town to bring peace and drive the villains out. A hero is usually seen as a vigilante as he is not told to come to help but does anyway. The hero often appears as a quiet, secretive, mysterious person who may make the audience admire him one minute and dislike him the next, he is also a very smart, cunning and adaptable which are all good values in a hero. The villain is usually fixed to one idea he thinks it is a smart cunning person but in the end is always defeated. Many scenes are set around the Saloon (bar) and there is quite often a romance involved with the hero and a local girl, the villain competing for her affections! There are two different types of villains in typical westerns Native Americans and white villains (cowboys).