The West in Film

analytical Essay
2945 words
2945 words

The depiction of minorities, specifically women and Native Americans, in Western film has changed drastically from the early 1930's to the late 1980's. These changes represent the changing views of American society in general throughout the 20th century. In the early part of the century, women and Native Americans were depicted as a burden. Women were viewed as a form of property, helpless and needing support. These minorities were obstacles in the quest for manifest destiny by the United States. Western films during the early 20th century represent the ignorance of American culture towards minorities. As time progressed, society began to develop compassion for Native Americans and men began to see women as equals. The movie industry perpetuated the views of society throughout the last century. When Native Americans were seen as an "obstacle" in westward expansion, film directors supported these views on screen. As society began to question the treatment of Native Americans and women, the film scripts responded to these changes. By looking at western films over the last 60 years, the correlation between societal attitudes and film plots has changed the views of Native Americans and women. The two have worked together to bring the portrayal of Native Americans from savage beasts to victims, and women from property to equals. 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... ... middle of paper ... the first westward expansion and the oppression of women lasted until the 1950's. However, it took American film produces until the 1990's to create roles for these minorities that were equal to those of white males. The depiction of minorities in western films, particularly women and Native Americans, has made significant progress from the 1930's and this progress has trickled into the teaching of history, particularly western expansion. Textbooks that used to emphasis the triumph and dominance of the United States over Native Americans, are now explaining expansion with less pride and more guilt. Women who played significant roles in society used to be ignored by history books, and are now included in almost every chapter. The progressive movements made by the film industry and society are allowing for Americans to look at the west in a new, enlightened manner.

In this essay, the author

  • Analyzes how the depiction of women and native americans in western films has changed dramatically from the early 1930s to the late 1980s.
  • Analyzes how the portrayal of minorities in stagecoach and fort apache reflect the views of society at that time. the depiction of the west is similar to that found in old history textbooks.
  • Analyzes stagecoach as a classic western directed by john ford. the passengers' forging community to defend themselves against the indians and the desert represents the societal views of the time.
  • Analyzes how ford's depiction of native americans in stagecoach is typical of the late 1930s. the musical score reflects the different attitudes towards the americans and the indians on the coach.
  • Compares fort apache to stagecoach, which deals more with the military life, but does not stray away from the stereotypes of the time.
  • Analyzes how the shift in the representation of native americans reflects a slight change in society and an attempt to move slowly away from the stereotypes that had been created and supported by earlier films.
  • Explains how society's views began to change, affecting the way the west was depicted in film. in the outlaw josie wells and the unforgiven, native americans were portrayed as english speaking characters.
  • Explains that in unforgiven, the natives were confined to what was known as an indian nation. the lack of acknowledgment of heritage and individuality among native americans demonstrates americans' ignorance.
  • Analyzes how the struggle for land between native americans and whites was a continual theme throughout the film.
  • Explains that the central themes of unforgiven were of violence and the oppression and struggle of women. in the outlaw josie wells, there were struggles between women and men.
  • Explains that the struggle for land was no longer a central theme in western films produced around the 1970's. in unforgiven there was hatred directed at immigrants who were not loyal to the united states.
  • Analyzes how the treatment of native americans and women is in transition throughout lonesome dove. captain willard, played by john voight, is lost and starving in the desert.
  • Analyzes how lonesome dove depicts the indians as terrible marksmen and strategists in a transition between the brutal depiction of native americans in the 1930s and the films of the 1990s.
  • Analyzes how two movies portray the indians as being compassionate and caring people, accepting americans into their lives.
  • Analyzes how both movies depicted the indians as compassionate and victims of mistreatment. they were forced to move off their land or suffer consequences imposed on them by the americans.
  • Analyzes how the indians were victimized by the devastation of their land in dances with wolves.
  • Analyzes how the portrayal of native americans in western film had changed drastically over time. in little big man and dances with wolves, indians were portrayed as kind, compassionate, caring people who feared for their lives because of the united states army.
  • Analyzes how the portrayal of native americans and women progressed over the 20th century. while the progress was slow, it represented america's development of a guilty conscious
  • Explains that women in the united states struggled for equality throughout the early 20th century. while western films, especially those involving clint eastwood, attempted to treat women with equality, there were still notions of superiority by men.
  • Analyzes how history books, societal attitudes and films all work together to create the image of the native americans and women.
  • Explains how the depiction of minorities in western films, especially women and native americans, has made significant progress from the 1930's and this progress has trickled into the teaching of history, particularly western expansion.

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