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November 1997, Week 2


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Patricia Scheiern Lewis <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Wed, 12 Nov 1997 16:04:48 -0600
text/plain (47 lines)
You might want to focus your definition of the Western genre a bit, because
the characteristics you listed in your post could apply to just about any
science fiction film with a strong, loner-type hero.  Some other themes
explored by the Western to which you could draw parallels in SF:
- focus on the American pioneer: the West as "land of opportunity," the
"Promised Land," uncharted territory, virgin land to be tamed, etc.; the SF
parallel might be space exploration or scientific advances
- concern with the definition of "American-ness" and the Western community:
which people are "authentic" Americans (or cowboys or pioneers or
gunfighters), which people try to construct, nurture, and preserve the
community rather than destroy or exploit it; the SF parallel might be the
preoccupation with defining "human" versus "non-human" ("Blade Runner," the
"Alien" films, the "Terminator" films, the "RoboCop" films, and just about
any other film in which the human race is threatened or in which the
boundaries between human and not-human are explored)
I'm sure you can think of more Western themes; these are just to get you
started.  Aside from the films mentioned above, consider including
"Westworld."  It takes place in a Western-themed amusement park filled with
gunfighting robots who suddenly come alive and start killing the humans.
Good luck!
Patricia Lewis
English Dept.
University of Chicago
[log in to unmask]
At 07:26 PM 11/11/97 -0500, you wrote:
>I am a student in an introductory level film course at Fitchburg State
>College in Mass.  I am researching science fiction films that are made with
>the typical Western genre characteristics.  These would include a hero with
>a strong code of ethics who stands alone and faces the problem (man against
>nature, lawlessness, greedy industrialist/ranchers) and  then resolves the
>situation by being the "fastest draw."  "Star Wars" would be an example.
>I'd love to hear from anyone with an opinion or reference.
>Kerry Thompson
Screen-L is sponsored by the Telecommunication & Film Dept., the
University of Alabama.