Wednesday, March 19, 2008


For today's post, I'm obviously writing about the western film genre because we have recently finished it. For the most part, the western has surpasssed my previous notions about the genre. I had always thought that westerns were long and boring with cowboys and Indians along the way. In fact, there is a lot more to these films; the western is somewhat like a hero-journey, kind of like The Odyssey. The main character is usually a man who is somewhat of a rebel with a cause, whether it be revenge or helping a damsel in distress. He is rugged and handsome, not baby-faced and young but experienced and brooding. As we learned in Clint Eastwood's Unforgiven, he can be a man past his prime somewhat unsure of exactly what he is doing. In John Ford's Stagecoach, John Wayne is the protagonist who is an anti-hero; he is going to jail yet he is good at heart and treats people with the respect that they deserve, rather than the respect that society has given them.
Along with the brooding hero, there is the timid man. This is portrayed by Mr. Peacock in Stagecoach and the novelist in Unforgiven. He is scared and adds comic relief with his scared actions and submissive ways. Along with the timid man, there is the prostitute (or sometimes prostitutes) with a heart of gold. She is pretty and kind, and she cares for others whether they be fellow prostitutes or another member of society. The prostitute is usually the opposite of what most people think a prostitute is like; she is relatable (in Stagecoach Dallas is kind and loving towards Miss Mallory and her baby) and looks out for others (the prostitutes band together in Unforgiven). The prostitute usually develops some kind of a relationship with the hero.
Now, if you are like me and how I used to think that the western was boring, you must rent a western film to prove yourself wrong. In this genre there is action from cowboys vs. cowboys to cowboys vs. Indians. There is love, sometimes between prostitutes and sometimes between each other (BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN!! Doesn't that count?!) There is even humor mixed in with a plot that usually centers around a looming fight.
So if you're unsure of what you want to watch on a Saturday night, go to your nearest Blockbusters and run towards the western genre!


Rima H said...

I never really even considered westerns to be like the Odyssey. Nice reference!! And now that you mention it there is always a prostitute that has a heart of gold like Dallas and the head of all prostitutes/or the whole group in Unforgiven, i hadn't even thought about that! Great Job!

Jessica C said...

I had the exact same feelings going in to the western genre. I really liked how you set a theme for movies like Unforgiven and Stagecoach. The heroic cowboy and bandits all play an important part of what a western really is! Great job on the post!