Peter Latham; One could describe a western as any movie featuring a cowboy
with a six-gun, riding a horse. One could also argue that the classic
western was based in a specific place (the American frontier) at a specific
time (the latter half of the nineteenth century), but that doesn't include
marginal/modern or "pseudo" westerns such as HUD or LONELY ARE THE BRAVE.
The classic structure of the incorruptible loner fighting powerful and evil
forces or simply trying to survive in a hostile world predates the western
film, of course, so I don't feel one can hang the genre of "western" on any
film which features these qualities (e.g: ROB ROY).
> From: plath3 <[log in to unmask]>
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Subject: What is a Western?
> Date: Thursday, November 04, 1999 6:19 AM
> The list's discussion of the Great American Western has led me to wonder
> what exactly is a Western?
> ROB ROY, for example has all of the elements of a Western, pioneers, land
> disputes, evil powerful men, and an ending in which the hero faces a
> famous mercenary swordsman (swordslinger?). It is, however, set in
> HIGH NOON is arguably an allegory in a Western setting.
> OUTLAND, to give another example, sets the plot of HIGH NOON in deep
> space, but eliminates the allegorical elements.
> The GUNFIGHTER, though set in the West, has much more in common with film
> noir than with the traditional Western, while BRAVEHEART evokes the
> memory of films such as I WILL FIGHT NO MORE FOREVER.
> Is the Western simply any story whose setting is the American frontier
> between the Mississippi and the coast of California? Or is it any story
> whose setting is a "frontier", i.e. any geographically remote and
> climatically harsh environment (not necessarily American), and whose plot
> concerns the efforts to "civilize" that environment?
> I would appreciate any thoughts you might have.
> Peter Latham
> Screen-L is sponsored by the Telecommunication & Film Dept., the
> University of Alabama: http://www.tcf.ua.edu
Screen-L is sponsored by the Telecommunication & Film Dept., the
University of Alabama: http://www.tcf.ua.edu