“Nothing haunts us like the boots we didn’t buy”
“Life is though darling, but so are you”
Western films are films whose story takes place generally in North America during the conquest of the West, that is to say in the last decades of the nineteenth century. This genre appeared in 1895 in direct connection with literature and paintings whose subject is the American Wild West, more commonly known as the “Far West”.
For a full article about the whole idea behind Western films and how they became so popular, visit this article by Britannica.com
These films reached the peak in the middle of the twentieth century in the United States during the golden age of Hollywood studios, just before being reinvented by European filmmakers in the 1960’s.
Let’s investigate now the top 6 western movies of all time:
Wyatt Earp’s and Doc Holliday’s friendship and their legendary duel with the Clanton brothers are one of the most famous stories of the Wild West folklore, which has inspired many western directors over time (My Darling, Clementine, Gunfight at the ok coral).
So the idea of an additional reproduction was evident during the mini-renaissance of the genre following the huge success of Dances with Wolves. Finally, not one, but two films were made about the life of a magistrate. However, while Kevin Costner made his version too serious and stretched, Kurt Russell made a fun, fast-paced and action-packed western in which even the love story does not seem to be superfluous, moreover, it is pasted especially groovy in the reckoning story.
Dances with Wolves is another highly recommended film which won 7 Oscars and other 43 awards, watch it now on Amazon
It is true that the Kurt Russell looks startlingly cool in his black dress and with his large mustache in the film, but to preserve Tombstone in our memory, one of the best roles of Val Kilmer‘s career was needed: Doc Holliday dying of lung disease.
The scene in which he shames the gun juggling Johnny Ringo with a tin mug is genial. The film has two Hungarian aspects: Andy Vajna was the producer and Doc Holliday called his hot-blooded girlfriend once “my sweet, Hungarian devil”.
5. Seraphim Falls
The greatness of this Western lies in its ruthless simplicity. Only two people have place in the story: the persecuted and the pursuer. The former was driven by revenge that oppresses all other feelings, the latter by the most basic will to live. At the beginning of the film Gideon (Pierce Brosnan) warms next to a fire on a snow-covered ridge.
A bullet whistled past him, Carver (Liam Neeson) tracked him down again, and the chase continues. We do not even know for a long time why one is chasing the other, we can only observe the life-and-death struggle of a gripping intensity that begins with a winter setting in the mountains, from where it gradually descends to the desert.
As if we scrolled through a book representing the natural beauties of the western half of the United States. The focus is on the action instead of the inner struggle until the end. Looking on the haggard faces or the landscapes we know right away what goes on in them.
The breakneck pace decays only at the end when the naturalistic tone is replaced by dreamlike images flowing through the surreal, reflecting the fatigue and the agitated nervous state of the two men. Seraphim Falls is free from postmodern playfulness, do not mope over the passing of the Wild West, instead, he sets an old fashioned goal, and even fulfilled it: he showed the limitless struggle of two men.
With few exceptions, when the Westerns are shifted towards comedy, then it will result in stupid bullshit. One such exception is the Maverick, which plays with the templates of the genre with brilliant esprit. In this film, everyone is a crook so everyone is scamming the others in every minute while ridiculing the topics of the genre.
A great example is the Indian, who was very tired of the urge that he has to talk as the Reds in pulp fictions and he has to beat the war drums all day long, but the Russian prince camping next has a similar idea about the Wild West, and because he pays a good money for them, they do the theater.
The American West was full of soldiers of fortune and unscrupulous profiteers, and from this theme in the seventies they would certainly have brought out a Western operating with an angry critique of capitalism. But Maverick does not take itself seriously and portrays these rascals living under the spell of money with an irresistible charm and hilarious humor.
Jodie Foster and Mel Gibson give the peak performance brought of their lifetime in a comedic role. They are attracted to each other, but of course this does not prevent them from robbing each other if the opportunity comes. They are incorrigible, therefore infinitely lovable. One could never be fed up with it.
3. Dead Man
We celebrated Jim Jarmusch recently, because he took the empty vampire movie, picked it to pieces, changed it to his own image, thus giving the genre a long-awaited out-breeding. The same has been done with the western in the mid-nineties. Dead Man is a surreal journey that begins with death in the charred ruins of the wild west.
Johnny Depp plays an awkward accountant in the film who was caught up with a tragic end in vain, because he goes through yet a symbolic way from the East to the West with a bullet in his heart in the company of a wise Indian.
Check out some of the newer movies of Jim Jarmusch on Fandango, maybe you have already watched some of these
Copying the real natural conditions the US: as the protagonist gets closer and closer to the Pacific Ocean, i.e. to the death meaning redemption, so the vegetation becomes increasingly richer. The wry humor in the Dead man clearly indicates that we see a Jarmusch film. The tycoon of Machine city (Robert Mitchum) talks to the stuffed bear in the corner of his office.
The three fiercest headhunters of the wild west pass the time by nipping out their guns over and over, thus testing the speed of each other. Iggy Pop stirs the beans at the campfire in a woman’s dress. No one has represented the passing of the Wild West in such an absurd, nightmarish way, like Jim Jarmusch.
Clint Eastwood was made him famous by the western. The appearance of the rude, speechless, often anonymous hero type played by him was made possible because the genre moved in a darker direction, and they began to portray the violence much more openly compared to the past.
Clint Eastwood seemingly had the final word in his last western concerning the violent action getting a large space in the genre, of which he committed a significant part. The actor-director plays the role of a long-time retired gun specialist in the movie, for whom the many killings and the bummer are just guilty memories to forget. The first picture does not show him on a horse, in glory, but covered in mud, chasing pigs.
The Unforgiven is a potent revival of the old lesson that violence begets violence, and the film by the way even pulls the Wild West himself into the mud. It all starts with a cowboy defacing a prostitute. Since the sheriff does not administer justice, in response the females hire an assassin to kill the man.
From this point the chain of events can not be stopped , and in the end we see William Munny really upset as he revenges his friend and organizes a terrible massacre in the town’s pub. The screenplay was acquired in the early eighties by Eastwood, but he waited almost a decade with realization to grow old for the role. It was worth it. The Unforgiven is the best Western of the nineties.
1. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
The death of the Wild West was processed dramatically by a lot of people, however, George Roy Hill – not forgetting the tragedy of the situation- peppered the tale of the end of the bandit’s era with a charming comedy. The two bandits played by Paul Newman and Robert Redford was about to run out of air, the banks were more like a fortress, the railway company sent professional agents to catch them, but they never lost their sang-froid and their sense of humor.
They create a sensational duo, everybody remembers the moment, when the ashamed Sundance Kid hardly admits that he cannot swim, or when their first bank robbery come to nothing due to the lack of their Spanish knowledge. The film mixes the different moods brilliantly.
George Roy Hill also directed the successful gangster movie called The Sting (1973) that you can also watch on Amazon
The desperation is always dissolved by a joke and each joke contains a little sadness. This volatility is needed because the end is coming and everyone feels it apart from them. However, they do not want to accept this reality and like two overgrown kids, they lark until they die.
The Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid still carry that completely alien western episode, when Paul Newman rides the bicycle with Katharine Ross on it between the fruit trees and the Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head keeps on turning. Moreover, with this music, the film will be even more compelling!