The Wild West Genre Essay

1105 words - 5 pages

The Wild West 9MGI

The Wild West was a period of great change in North America. After 1775, the American Colonies began to expand westward in search of more land. This expansion was led mostly by cattle ranchers in need of new pastures for their herds. Over time, people gradually left their homes and friends on the East coast, and moved into little townships in the west. This would be a very difficult decision for them, since they generally didn’t know whether they would be able to support themselves at their new place. Many Wild West movies are set in the latter half of the 1900s.
A “Western Film” is a film genre dedicated to this period in time, where Cowboys, Indians and Outlaws ran wild. The very first Western films showed in the 1890’s, these were; Annie Oakley, Bucking Broncho, Buffalo Bill, Buffalo Dance and Sioux Ghost Dance. They were trying to show audiences the “heroics” and the “bravery” of fake people, which I think flawed many people’s impressions of what makes a real man, as it would almost always depict the man as a hero who stands up for the weaker many, is great with a gun, can take down several men at once with just his fists, which just isn’t possible. Personally, I think this has skewed gender roles over the years, even just slightly, and only now are we “recovering” and realizing that not everyone is a macho-man.

Western Films are very standard, the protagonist is generally a handsome rogue cowboy or gunslinger. They always have some sort of antagonist or “evil” groups that take advantage of the general population, thus bring them wealth and notoriety. People that watch Western films expect to see cowboys, US Rangers, gunslingers, thieves, outlaws and trains are a common feature.
In the movie Shane, a 1950s film directed by George Stevens, the main character “Shane”, is a ‘lone wolf’ that has recently come into a township. He is quick on the trigger but humbles himself to working for a small farm ship owned by an even smaller family. A group of hostile, self-righteous cattle ranchers often show up at the farmstead doing their best to evict the family and their farmer friends, from the pastures they claim belong to them. Over the course of the movie, Shane tries to peace-keep, but when the ranchers call in an old acquaintance-now-enemy, fellow gunslinger Wilson, things turn hostile. The movie has lots of the combat the genre expects, and ends with the protagonist riding off into the sunset, another trope to be expected from the genre.
The latest rendition of the movie, The Lone Ranger, they try to go against to tropes involved with “traditional” Westerns. For example, one of the main characters is not a bulked up macho man, he’s never even fired a gun before, let alone ridden a horse. Yet his character development is much better than most films of the genre. There are tropes which must remain however, for example; cowboys and Indians, steam trains, bank robberies, outlaws, rangers (where the film gets...

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