Horse opera fuelled by oats
– The western genre got its start in paperback fiction in the mid-19th century
– The first western was The Great Train Robbery, made in 1903 by Edwin S. Porter
– In 1942 Hollywood churned out 120 westerns
– Only three westerns have won the Academy Award for Best Picture: Cimarron (1931), Dances With Wolves (1990), Unforgiven (1992)
– In the US they are also called “horse operas” or “oaters” after the oats eaten by protagonists’ horses
– In the 1950s and 1960s television westerns such as The Lone Ranger were hits. The modern equivalent is Deadwood, starring Ian McShane
– During the 1960s and 1970s “spaghetti westerns" emerged, low-budget affairs with more action and violence than Hollywood films
Muchos westerns están a punto de ser estrenados en los próximos meses, "Seraphim Falls" con Liam Neeson y Pierce Brosnan, "3.10 to Yuma" con Russell Crowe y Christian Bale, "El asesinato de Jesse James" con Brad Pitt, "No country for old men" de los Coen, "Boone's Lick" con Tom Hanks y Julianne Moore.

Peter Rainer dice que el western refleja la intranquilidad del americano con respecto al mundo. El americano se refugia en las figuras sencillas de su pasado nacional para afrontar la complejidad del presente, global.
From The Times, Monday
Western revival looks back to simpler life
Ben Hoyle, Arts Reporter
Like Robert Redford and Paul Newman’s cornered outlaws at the end of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,it looked as if the western had run out of second chances.

Despite the successes of Clint Eastwood’s Unforgiven and Kevin Costner’s Dances with Wolves, the genre that defined American cinema for much of the 20th century has long seemed ready for Boot Hill. Now a posse of major westerns packed with Alist stars is galloping over the horizon towards British cinemas.

First to arrive is Seraphim Falls. Opening on August 24, it stars Liam Neeson in grim, near-silent pursuit of Pierce Brosnan across spectacularly inhospitable landscapes. A month later Russell Crowe and Christian Bale saddle up for the remake of the 1957 classic 3.10 to Yuma, directed by James Mangold, who made the Johnny Cash biopic Walk the Line.

Brad Pitt’s long-delayed portrayal of Jesse James as a smiling psychopath in The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford is showing in competition at next month’s Venice Film Festival, where Quentin Tarantino will also be curating a retrospective of obscure spaghetti westerns.

No Country for Old Men, the Coen brothers’ adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s violent modern Wild West tale, arrives in February, by which time Tom Hanks is expected to be deep into filming Boone’s Lick, in which his character escorts Julianne Moore’s mother-of-four on an epic frontier trek from Missouri to the fort in Wyoming where she expects to find her estranged husband.

Peter Rainer, a former president of the National Society of Film Critics, believes that the return of the cowboy movie reflects American unease about the world. “Whenever the genre gets revived it generally means that there’s some need in the culture to get back to basics. It’s either used as a code for what’s going on in America and the world or as a shield against it.” Thus High Noon (1952) has been read as a homage to those who stood up to McCarthyism and the House UnAmerican Affairs Committee. Carl Foreman, who wrote the screenplay, was among those blacklisted for alleged communist sympathies.

Later, films such as Soldier Blue and Little Big Man (both 1970) were thinly disguised attacks on America’s role in the Vietnam War. Tell Them Willie Boy Is Here (1969), which starred Redford as a sheriff hunting an American Indian man, carried an antiracism message during the civil rights struggle, Mr Rainer said.

“This time the westerns are more something to retreat behind. They are an escape hatch to take us back to a time when the conflicts were home-grown, the killers were bank robbers not terrorists, and everything was easier for us in America to grasp.”

Although the westerns in the pipe-line are gritty and occasionally disquieting to watch, the familiar imagery of the cowboy film is comforting to audiences, said Mr Rainer, of The Christian Science Monitor. “The western is the quintessentially American cinematic form. It’s as American as jazz or the musical.”

Its popularity tailed off during the 1970s, undermined by the more contemporary appeal of cop thrillers such as The French Connection. In 1980, the box-office disaster of Heaven’s Gate, Michael Cimino’s tale of 1890s Wyoming, dragged not only the studio (United Artists) but also the western to the brink of extinction.

Although Dances with Wolves and Unforgiven both won an Oscar for Best Film in the 1990s, they failed to spark a revival. Part of the problem, Mr Rainer said, was that studio bosses were reluctant to back westerns unless they had something demonstrably new to say, such as Brokeback Mountain, which focused on a love affair between two cowboys. Now, 100 years after the birth of John Wayne, the western’s most enduring star, the requirements may be changing.

Michael Gubbins, editor of Screen International, said: “Right now, the search is on for films that resonate on a global level, which is why there are so many remakes, sequels and book adaptations being made. The number of images which work in Japan, the UK and Europe as well as the US is quite small, but the western is still a genre that is understood in virtually every country because of its history.”

8 comentarios:

Irma dijo...

El western una búqueda de un mundo menos complejo? Para mí eso es como buscarle cinco pies al gato. Lo que pasa es que la imaginación no abunda precisamente y ahora tienen que recurrir a antiguas fórmulas a ver si así enganchan público. Al menos, esa es mi opinión.

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Emilio Calvo de Mora dijo...

Yo regreso de vez en cuando a películas inmortales, glorias absolutas del cine. El western ha sido con frecuencia un género denostado, alojado en la frivolidad cutre del spaghetti y de los presupuestos cortos de serie B a lo italiano o a lo almeriense. Eso lo ha quemado. Pero Sin perdón hizo que las mentes bienpensantes de la crítica abriesen los ojos otra vez. Estupendo post. Y una cosa originales el apunte en inglés. A tirar de diccionario, que no viene mal.

She-ra dijo...

Gracias por la información!
Celebro tu blog!

BUDOKAN dijo...

De un tiempo a esta parte el western ha pasado a la categorìa de cine arte ya que los últimos trabajos que podemos encontrar de este género están planteados de esta manera. Muy bueno el blog. Saludos!

Guido dijo...

Hay una excelente entrevista que hizo Peter Bogdanovich a John Ford, donde le preguntaba sobre la psicología del cowboy, la evolución del cowboy de Stagecoach hasta The Searchers, y a cada una de estas preguntas Ford solo se cruzaba de hombros y decía: I Just Make Pictures.

Excelente blog. Uno de mis favoritos desde ahora.

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