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The Western Movie Genre Essay

1398 words - 6 pages

Westerns are the most important genre of the American film industry, a reflective tribute to the early days of the grand, wild American frontier. They are one of the oldest, most prevailing and versatile genres and one of the classically American genres in their mythic origins. The popularity of westerns has changed over time. Their most productive period was in the 1930s to the 1960s, and most lately in the 90s, there was a restoration of the genre.
This original American art form concentrates on the frontier west located North America. Westerns are usually arranged on the American frontier at some point in the last part of the 19th century subsequent to the Civil War, in a geographically western location with romantic, spanning frontier landscapes or rocky country ground. Nevertheless, Westerns may go on with the time of America's colonial era or ahead of the mid-20th century, or as far geographically as Mexico. Countless of western films utilized the Civil War, the Battle of the Alamo (1836) or the Mexican Revolution (1910) as a background.
The western film genre frequently presents the invasion of the wild and the submission of nature, for the sake of civilization, or the elimination of the territorial rights of the natives in the frontier. Detailed settings include lonesome remote forts, ranch houses, the secluded homestead, the saloon, the jail, the livery stable, the small-town street, or small frontier towns that constitute the boundaries of civilization. They may even include Native American land site or villages. Films such as Roy Rogers' Trigger, Gene Autry's Champion, William Boyd's (Hopalong Cassidy) Topper, the Lone Ranger's Silver and Tonto's Scout exemplify these icons.
Western films have also been identified as the horse opera or the cowboy picture. The western film genre has depicted greatly on America's past, honoring the past-passing values and ambitions of the well-known preceded age of the West. Eventually, westerns have been re-invented, re-defined and lengthened, disregarded, re-identified, and parodied. In the late 60s and early 70s,'revisionistic' Westerns that queried the themes and elements of traditional westerns appeared such as Sam Peckinpah's The Wild Bunch (1969), Arthur Penn's Little Big Man (1970), Robert Altman's McCabe & Mrs. Miller (1971), and later Clint Eastwood's Unforgiven (1992).
Generally, the central plot of the western film is the classic, plain goal of preserving law and order on the frontier in a fast paced action narrative. It is usually fixed in archetypical conflict - good vs. bad, virtue vs. evil, white hat vs. black hat, man vs. man, new arrivals vs. Native Americans (unjustly presented as barbaric Indians), settlers vs. Indians, humanity vs. nature, civilization vs. wilderness or lawlessness to name a few. Oftentimes the hero of a western encounters his opposite "double," a reflection of his own evil side that he has to put down.
Outstanding elements in westerns comprise hostile...

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