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What is a Western?

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  • Mountain Man
    replied
    How The West Was Won
    The Tall Men
    The Sons of Katie Elder
    The Searchers

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  • Half Pint John
    replied
    You two brain storming again in a fantasy world that is and hasn't been. That's not a western in any sense of the word. Those are SI-FI.

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  • Bwaha
    replied
    Originally posted by The Exorcist View Post
    Or in space in the 29th century

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o-sp68GjYL0



    And, for those too young to know -

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HBeIrk-Refo

    Thanks, you just got me to watch Serenity again.

    Leave a comment:


  • The Exorcist
    replied
    Originally posted by warmoviebuff View Post
    To paraphrase the Supreme Court - A Western is like porn, I know it when I see it. But seriously, I think it needs to be set in the American West in the 19th Century.
    Or in space in the 29th century

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o-sp68GjYL0



    And, for those too young to know -

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HBeIrk-Refo

    Leave a comment:


  • Greybriar
    replied
    Originally posted by Half Pint John View Post
    Originally posted by Greybriar View Post
    I'd say a Western is usually set in the American West in the latter half of the 19th century. The main character is a cowboy who rides a horse and is armed with a revolver.
    That cuts a lot of film out such as Big Jake, The Alamo, Liberty Valance, many of the Eastwood films, Magnificent Seven, Rio Bravo and and and.
    The operative word in my post was "usually." There's nothing carved in stone.

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  • jeffdoorgunnr
    replied
    Originally posted by Half Pint John View Post


    From Paint your wagon.
    excellent song.

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  • warmoviebuff
    replied
    To paraphrase the Supreme Court - A Western is like porn, I know it when I see it. But seriously, I think it needs to be set in the American West in the 19th Century.

    Leave a comment:


  • Surrey
    replied
    Originally posted by Half Pint John View Post
    Western as on the western frontier.

    Opinions on films such as Mohawk Trail and LotM. Are they Westerns as well, iyo
    The Magnificent 7 is set in Mexico but I would regard that as a Western. There have been Westerns set in Canada as well. I would say that they have to be set in the later half of c19th up till 1914.

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  • Half Pint John
    replied
    Originally posted by Mountain Man View Post
    Open Range was good, but wasn't it made for television? Because that opens the door to an outstanding series such as Lonesome Dove.


    BTW: there have also been some exceptional Western Musicals, among them Paint Your Wagon.


    Here's another good one in which there are no heroes, merely varying shades of bad and good: Appaloosa


    From Paint your wagon.

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  • Half Pint John
    replied
    Originally posted by Mountain Man View Post
    Such as demonstrated in Shane.
    Or Liberty Valence

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  • Mountain Man
    replied
    Originally posted by Canuckster View Post
    I wasn't familiar with the movie so looked it up on Wiki. That article provided a definition which could be added to this discussion...

    "These characters don't seek violence... But the notion that it's sometimes necessary... is the Western's most fundamental ideal."
    Such as demonstrated in Shane.

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  • Mountain Man
    replied
    Originally posted by Canuckster View Post
    I wasn't familiar with the movie so looked it up on Wiki. That article provided a definition which could be added to this discussion...

    "These characters don't seek violence... But the notion that it's sometimes necessary... is the Western's most fundamental ideal."
    Open Range was good, but wasn't it made for television? Because that opens the door to an outstanding series such as Lonesome Dove.


    BTW: there have also been some exceptional Western Musicals, among them Paint Your Wagon.


    Here's another good one in which there are no heroes, merely varying shades of bad and good: Appaloosa

    Leave a comment:


  • Canuckster
    replied
    Originally posted by Half Pint John View Post
    One I think is excellent is Open Range.
    I wasn't familiar with the movie so looked it up on Wiki. That article provided a definition which could be added to this discussion...

    "These characters don't seek violence... But the notion that it's sometimes necessary... is the Western's most fundamental ideal."

    Leave a comment:


  • Mountain Man
    replied
    Nope - no "Westerns" in the South Pacific or elsewhere. See previous commentary on Quigley Down Under.

    It's a "Western" because it is set in the American West during the Westward Expansion, period. The rest, like Firefly, are merely rip-offs and "pseudo-westerns" not worthy of the name. Firefly, in fact, is sci-fi, just as films like Westworld are. At best, they have a Western "nuance".

    Although the Western environment figures heavily into the cinematics, it is not, as suggested, always the "foe". It is most frequently the backdrop for the film and action, and the reason why the film proceeds as it does. Can't rob a Western railroad if you aren't out west. Can't rustle cattle if you're not out west. Can't have a war between ranchers and open-range cattlemen if you're not out west, can't have a cattle drive, period, if you're not out west, and definitely not going to step out into the street and shot it out if you're not in the west, and so forth and so on.

    The landscape sets the mood and enhances scenes, but it is only the enemy in films such as Revenant and similar survival tales.

    Two more worthy candidates for Best Westerns:
    Mountain Men
    Jeremiah Johnson

    Leave a comment:


  • The Exorcist
    replied
    Wow, I'd say this just about covers it!

    Originally posted by TacCovert4 View Post
    My thoughts:

    Setting: A Western Must be set in the Frontier. The American West is most predominant, but based on time period I think that other frontiers could work. The Frontier itself is a character, a main character, and provides both a backdrop and a foe to be conquered or endured. In fact, the Frontier might be more of a foe than the actual Villain....for example Hidalgo's Arabian Desert is really the biggest obstacle, the villains are quite flat and pretty incompetent.

    Action: A Western Will have Gunplay. More, less, that'll vary. And I think that the guns can vary as well based on time period. But a Western must have gun play.

    Characters: Characters may be flat or have depth. But you will see a minimum of a Hero or Anti-Hero (or both), a Victim or Affected Party, and a Villain. Also, your hero or anti-hero should not be Cavalry functioning as a member of the Army (that makes it a Military Movie), or otherwise operating with excessive means.....a hero or anti-hero must accomplish much or all of their deeds through grit, skill, luck, and a bit of sarcastic banter.

    Style: A Western might explore many different themes, but on a base level it is a morality play with a purported good guy, a purported bad guy, and the bad guy receiving some form of commuppence in the end. Traditionally the good guy settles down or rides off into the sunset, but the good guy might also heroically or tragically die or meet another end.

    To see two VERY different examples of Westerns, ironically from the guy who played literally the same character in every movie, look at Big Jake and McLintock. The former is a very bloody affair with defined villains, heroes, and anti-heroes. Lots of people die, including most side characters and even a couple that might be considered main characters. The latter is a far more lighthearted romp where the gunplay is at an absolute minimum, no one dies, and it's practically a Western take on the RomCom.

    I would say that some 'space westerns' meet the criteria for westerns. For example, I personally consider "Firefly" to be a "Western Series", as it's about anti-heroes on the frontier exploring various morality related things and various villains from bandits to the government (the space version of Indian Agents) get their just desserts. I don't tie Westerns to the requirement of time period from the early revolvers on up to the advent of automobiles and modern weapons. I think Westerns can run the gamut from Flintlocks to Lasers, given that there are guns involved of some sort and the other requirements are met. Pre-firearm IMHO isn't a 'Western' (at least one party must have firearms and the other criteria met, obviously Natives might not have guns).....pre-firearm would be more of an 'epic' or 'saga' in the old style.
    Great job!

    Geography-wise, you could have a "western" in the South Pacific or Siberia, but the timing does matter. I'd say it starts with Daniel Boone and ends with "No country for old men" ... and we won't get another era like that until Space opens up for normal people.
    Or.... as close to normal as Westerners ever get.

    Leave a comment:

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