While westerns may not be the most well liked of movie genres, it is most certainly the most distinguishable. If compare all the westerns we’ve watched in class, we can pick out the defining features that make a western a western.
From Django to Sukiyaki Western Django and to even Yojimbo, we easily discern the nonchalant, brooding, and almost enigmatic protagonist with a strong will to conduct his deeds of justice. Despite the cultural and time differences between them, the silent anti-hero protagonist is an almost guaranteed thing to occur. Alongside their rather plain style of clothing, which is something that I’ve noted a few times.
If we look at the movies where and when the place doesn’t truly matter, except that the setting takes place in a desolate, rundown town where trouble is a brewing, especially in that well-placed road where all the buildings run by. Buildings that usually involve a bar or tavern of some sort where majority of characters and exposition will most likely meet and take place. The bar that will eventually have some sort bar brawl. The bar that will most likely have majority of the furniture and items destroyed in some way.
And of course what western wouldn’t have a good ol’ stand off to heat the tension. It might have our warring characters meander the battlefield as they gauge each other. Or it might have a long intense stare-off with close-up shots and zoom-ins to the combatants weapons of choice(as we can see weapons can vary) and faces. Westerns always have that moment where there is nothing but silence following the villains monologue on how “Muahaha, you don’t stand a chance” or something alike to that and(cue tumbleweed/wind) and battle ensues. A battle, mind you, that often begins and ends within a moments notice.
And why does the battle end so quickly? Because the protagonist is skillful master of his weapon/firearm of choice with moves so swift that leave majority of his foes bewildered and dead before they hit the ground. Movements with astonishing speed that leave onlookers and viewers stunned at what just happened.
As we can see, it doesn’t really matter on many aspects of the film except a few key notes on what makes a western a western. And from this, the western formula can interchange its variables and still be a western with some differences.