Visual Style and Western Theme of Shane
By analysing Shane' (1953) in conjunction with its visual style and western themes, it will clearly show what aspects of western culture are apparent in the film. By looking at the visual style, this will show how the mise-en-scene informs the audience that Shane' is placed in the western genre.
Firstly I will analyse the western themes that are visible in Shane'. The whole narrative of Shane' is the struggle of the homesteaders against the ranchers. In the late 19th Century when Shane' is took place, homesteaders moved to the West to set up home. The homesteader's sought
agricultural development, they wanted to earn their own living on their own land. The homesteader's felt that by moving to the West would provide them wonder and promise. Loy states, (2001, p.45), Shane' shows the coming of wheat farmers who fenced in the open range to protect their crops.' Shane' portrays the on-going conflict between the homesteaders and the ranchers. The ranchers who occupy the tiny town and are led by greedy Mr Ryker feel the land taken by the homesteaders is their land. The ranchers increasingly terrorise the homesteaders in hope that they will disperse from their homes.
Shane' focuses on the Starret family, the father in the film, is defiant throughout, insisting the Rykers will not drive him out. The western themes evident in Shane' are obviously the typical western setting. There is the dusty border town inhabited by the Rykers. It is not your usual western town, compared to Tonto in Stagecoach'. The town in Shane' is in comparison desolate and not many buildings have been erected, whereas in Stagecoach' they have. The emptiness represents an eerie and unsafe location. Even though the town is so deserted it still has the main wooden buildings visual in most western films. There is the saloon, mostly occupied by Ryker and his men, The Grayston general store which is bordered off only by the saloon doors, the blacksmiths, where Tory is visiting (before he gets murdered by gun-slinging Wilson) and finally a hotel.
We are made aware from the opening that Shane is connected to the wilderness as he descends from the mountains. The mountains are another key western theme that occurs time and time again. The opening scene echoes the final scene, as Shane proceeds back up the mountain he descended from. This shows the individual' leaving the community' of the homesteaders that he has been welcomed into.