Saturday, May 24, 2008

Revival Of The Western?

"I discovered the Western was dead when I visited a junk shop looking down at a collection of model cowboys and Indians," writes Mark Mordue in Dead Men Walking , an essay for British magazine Frieze.
"Although its residual influence remains today in everything from a pair of boots to a Ryan Adams song, until recently it seemed that the Western had all but faded from our cinema and television screens, and had become as archaic as the history it once so vitally envisioned," Mordue adds. Does the success of recent movies such as No Country for Old Men, 3:10 To Yuma or The Assassination of Jessie James herald the return of the genre?

Mordue retraces the myth and history of the Western -- how it "began dreaming itself into life when the American frontier first opened up;" how it parallels American history; and its eventual demise following Heaven's Gate's undeserved flop in 1980. "In many ways Western cinema has been a continuation of [the] tension between a vision quest and American ideals of manifest destiny," writes Mordue. And a reflection of the "near-mystical power of the horse and the gun" -- which continues to this day.

An excellent, educating read. Draft of the story on Mark Mordue's blog, which is definitely worth the detour.
photo LA Frog