Week 10 Blog Entry

Although the western genre is not my favourite (I loathe it), western films are are quite easy to identify.

Of the westerns we have watched so far–Yojimbo, A Fistful of Dollars, Django, and Sukiyaki Western Django–many commonalities were shared that are characteristic of the western genre. Each film’s main character is an outlaw and an antihero that has just arrived in a ghost town overrun by two rival gangs and fraught with gang violence. Nearly every male character 1) has a gun (except in Yojimbo), 2) is young, 3) and has bloodlust. The female characters are weak slaves to the males of the films and have little use aside from sex. Each film features some sort of elderly man (or in the case of Sukiyaki Western Django, woman) who aids the antihero (usually unwillingly) by offering him food, shelter, and unwanted advice. The sets are very dirty/dusty/muddy and feature buildings constructed entirely of wooden planks.

One of the main reasons I strongly dislike this genre is that it makes frequent use of deus ex machina to cover the fact that the stories are full of holes and are horribly-thought-out. I think, though, that that statement is too kind to the genre because most of the time there seems to be no story at all—just senseless violence to fill (waste) time.

Despite my feelings toward westerns, I did enjoy Sukiyaki Western Django because it seemed to parody the genre I’ve grown to detest. It made frequent satirizations of the senseless violence and action sequences common among westerns, and at one particular point it made quite a hilarious satirization of deus ex machina—when the leader of the red gang is lying on the ground while the machine gun is firing in his direction, he manages to roll out of the way of every bullet (while knocked out) and survive an explosion of dynamite unscathed. He even wakes up after the explosion and says something along the lines of “wow I’m lucky,” which I think was priceless.

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One thought on “Week 10 Blog Entry

  1. Westerns never have been a powerhouse of story telling, for most, the story serves to usher the lone gunman into town, then leaves faster than any of the previous residents, who have abandoned the once prosperous town for whatever reason.

    Which means, ostensibly, that the Western is not the thinking man’s genre. It was the precursor, I think, to the kind of movies that are becoming more prevalent today; Pacific Rim, any choice of Home Invasion genre, and, well, almost all modern horror (Cabin In The Woods excepted) films. The vast majority are senseless violence, because, violence.

    I realise that Sukiyaki Western was supposed to be a satire, critique, etc., but I feel it dipped down into an odd love letter format once too often. The film was always too involved for me. Some parts felt like satire, yes. But all the extraneous plot threads and random happenstance occurrences outside of the battlefield seemed less satirically self referential.

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