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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
Scotland.

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

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