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November 1999, Week 1


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Ed Owens <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Fri, 5 Nov 1999 10:59:26 -0500
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Adam Wathen wrote:

> (see MAGNIFICENT SEVEN which is a
> great western from Japan!)

More precisely, an american remake of a great western from Japan, Kurosawa's

I think pigeonholing ourselves by setting up such specific criteria for what
is or isnt a western is begging for trouble.  The problem then becomes that
any film that doesnt meet our criteria must either be rejected out of hand or
the rules must be changed in order to allow for the film to be admitted.
Either way, there is an accompanying loss of credibility that only serves to
weaken the initial position.  While I agree that there are--and should
be--some governing criteria, I dont know that they should be so strictly

On the other hand, I do agree with Peter that defining the "western" purely in
terms of narrative archetypes (incorruptible loner fighting evil) is too broad
and needs some refinement.

This raises the question that I have seen mentioned before (was it Schatz?)
about how the genre is to be defined.  Do we watch movies and build the
definition based on what we observe?  Or do we establish the criteria
beforehand and then see which movies fit?  Either approach seems inherently
flawed, and yet, one of the two must be employed....unless someone has a third

Ed Owens

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