Of all the genres in all the movie theatres in all the world, we had to walk into this one……….Nothing is so recognizable as the Western. You don’t need a Doctorate in Cultural Theory to recognise its semiotic signifiers- smokin’ guns, stetsons, sheriffs, stallions and all the others locked in the collective subconscious of moviegoers around the world. It’s America’s very special cultural trope. No one ever imagines we are talking about the West of England, or China, or Ruislip for that matter. No one makes Easterns, or Northerns or Southerns for one good reason. The idiom of the Western is so well- established that every Director can impose their own vision and purpose, each as different from the next as The Outlaw Josey Wales is to Blazing Saddles. Some are mere entertainment. Others muse over the profoundest questions of love, and death and honour. But will be a Western playing on a channel somewhere on your TV, in your collection, or in your memory, now, as you read this.
Our list today is from The Independent but its canon is neither exhaustive nor exclusive. You’ll have your own opinions. Yet it does showcase some of the finest directors, actors and films ever, so you won’t be disappointed if you choose from it. Above all the Western is a democratic genre. It’s heroes are always the ordinary man or woman, which makes it American indeed. Everyone can identify with Henry Fonda at Oxbow, or little Joey at the end of Shane. You don’t have to be a King, a Press Tycoon or head of an Italian-American business conglomerate to get inside their heads. We thought ELO recognised this rather well in their own tribute, Wild West Hero Thus ending a midweek blog with one of musical links for a change. Well, it is almost Christmas.
Thanks to P Seymour
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