I Couldn’t Think Of A Clever Title

So please accept this meta title instead.

The Western is a genre that is as worn as the Man With No Name’s boots. We all know the story. A mysterious stranger rides into town on a Tuesday, stays for a week to clear out the riffraff and save the town, then rides out on Friday. He’s always gruff, stoic, and cold, but only is as such because some action in the past that he needs to move past. He saves the woman, who is typically harassed by men (whether or not she is paid for it) and treats her with respect. The characters are two dimensional and easily predictable. The villain is suitably evil, and there’s always (read) always a idiosyncratic bartender or the like that aids the hero. Furthermore, the hero goes through some tribulation during the film, be it a kidnapping, or breaking of hands, etc. Despite this repetition, the genre still has classics: Anything by Sergio Leone, Django, Django Unchained (Set in the South, yes, but I’ll get to that) are all great movies and easily worth viewing.

The fascinating thing about Westerns, though, is that the genre has transcended the setting. There are plenty of great Westerns that aren’t set in the American West, yet still contain all the hallmarks of the genre. Django Unchained is the most recent example, but my favourite is easily Joss Whedon’s Firefly. Set in space in the far future, it contains elements of the classic Western: there are horses and guns, yes, but also spaceships and lasers. And still, Malcolm Reynolds, the protagonist, is a stoic and cold character with crushed ideals. There’s a… lady of the night with a heart of gold, and tons of trials and tribulations. For all intents and purposes, it is a Western. In space. A Space Western.

Good show. Definitely watch it.

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2 thoughts on “I Couldn’t Think Of A Clever Title

  1. I actually found this post quite amusing (primarily the beginning portion), mainly because it could not have been more on the money. It definitely hits all the main characteristics that one would expect to find in a typical film of the Western genre. Just as you have mentioned, regardless of the repetitious characteristics, the Western film genre has yielded some classic motion pictures.
    I had not thought about how the setting differs within some Westerns. However, this is an interesting point because some of the settings within Western films do not always parallel that of the original Westerns. For instance, the two films we watched were both Western films but the settings presented were similar but not identical. I found the second film we watched in class to have a more modernized setting. Because Western films contain several unique aspects, they are still extremely identifiable even when it is not set in the American West. Westerns are not typically my choice when it comes to movies, which probably explains why I have not seen the films you have mentioned in the latter portion of your blog post.

  2. Then there’s Cowboys and Aliens, am I right? Although Django, and Sukiyaki Django does break the normal frame of the western, they do share many of the same elements, being also titled westerns. The Japanese film was so out there while Django had a character wearing a black hat. Then in the Sukiyaki Django, you don’t know who to root for and who to hate. One second, the film is hilariously silly and then there is just mass death that makes you feel so weird because you are unaware of the feelings you are experiencing. But then at the same time, the film is similar because the setting is an isolated town with a conflict between two factions that end very violently. Then there’s the female that needs saving and the family that is very similar to Yojimbo and a Fistful of Dollars. It almost felt like I was watching the same plot over and over again.

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