Movie Genre: Western

 

The Western is a genre of various visual arts, such as film, television, radio, literature, painting and others. Westerns are devoted to telling stories set primarily in the latter half of the 19th century in the American Old West, hence the name. Some Westerns are set as early as the Battle of the Alamo in 1836. There are also a number of films about Western-type characters in contemporary settings, such as Junior Bonner set in the 1970s and The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada in the 21st century.

Westerns often portray how desolate and hard life was for American frontier families. These families are faced with change that would severely alter their way of life. This may be depicted by showing conflict between natives and settlers or U.S. Cavalry or between cattle ranchers and farmers (“sodbusters”), or by showing ranchers being threatened by the onset of the Industrial Revolution. Despite being tightly associated with a specific time and place in American history, these themes have allowed Westerns to be produced and enjoyed across the world.

The Western genre sometimes portrays the conquest of the wilderness and the subordination of nature in the name of civilization or the confiscation of the territorial rights of the original inhabitants of the frontier. The Western depicts a society organized around codes of honor and personal, direct or private justice (such as the feud, rather than any rationalistic, abstract law, in which persons have no social order larger than their immediate peers, family, or perhaps themselves alone. The popular perception of the Western is a story that centers on the life of a semi-nomadic wanderer, usually a cowboy or a gunfighter.

In some ways, such protagonists may be considered the literary descendants of the knight errant which stood at the center of earlier extensive genres such as the Arthurian Romances. Like the cowboy or gunfighter of the Western, the knight errant of the earlier European tales and poetry was wandering from place to place on his horse, fighting villains of various kinds and bound to no fixed social structures but only to his own innate code of honor. And like knights errant, the heroes of Westerns frequently rescue damsels in distress. Similarly, the wandering protagonists of Westerns share many of the characteristics equated with the image of the ronin in modern Japanese culture.

The Western typically takes these elements and uses them to tell simple morality tales, although some notable examples (e.g. the later Westerns of John Ford or Clint Eastwood’s Unforgiven) are more morally ambiguous. Westerns often stress the harshness of the wilderness and frequently set the action in an arid, desolate landscape. Specific settings include isolated forts, ranches and homesteads; the Native American village; or the small frontier town with its saloon, general store, livery stable and jailhouse. Apart from the wilderness, it is usually the saloon that emphasizes that this is the “Wild West”: it is the place to go for music (raucous piano playing), women (often prostitutes), gambling (draw poker or five card stud), drinking (beer or whiskey), brawling and shooting. In some Westerns, where “civilization” has arrived, the town has a church and a school; in others, where frontier rules still hold sway, it is, as Sergio Leone said, “where life has no value”.

 

Billy The Kid

Billy The Kid

A bounty hunter from New Mexico and a gang of horsemen called “Four of the Apocalypse” set their sights on the town of Dogma.

Apache Woman

Apache Woman

Tommy is an innocent cavalry officer who falls in love with a beautiful Apache woman after rescuing her from a nasty gun smuggler named Honest Jeremy.

Lawless

Lawless

Set in Depression-era Franklin County, Virginia, a bootlegging gang is threatened by a new deputy and other authorities who want a cut of their profits.

The Lone Ranger

The Lone Ranger

Native American warrior Tonto recounts the untold tales that transformed John Reid, a man of the law, into a legend of justice.

Django Unchained

Django Unchained

With the help of his mentor, a slave-turned-bounty hunter sets out to rescue his wife from a brutal Mississippi plantation owner.

Heathens and Thieves

Heathens and Thieves

Lawmen, drifters, and hired guns converge at a Northern California ranch believing its Chinese owners possess stolen gold…

Any Last Words

Any Last Words

After a violent war, one man finds himself shot and waiting for death. As he lies there, he’s left to make his toughest choice – whether to live or die.

Buffalo Girls

Buffalo Girls

Wild. Untamed. Legendary. Buffalo Girls celebrates the bold escapades of tough-talking Calamity Jane Canary and her illustrious cohorts…

Bandidas

Bandidas

In turn-of-the-century Mexico, two very different women become a bank-robbing duo in an effort to combat a ruthless enforcer terrorizing their town.

Billy the Kid

Billy the Kid

A study in the evolution of an outlaw, Billy starts out as an innocent youth, but upon witnessing the murder of his friend and mentor, he plunges into a life of crime…