Western (genre)

From ArticleWorld

Westerns are a hugely popular type of film, which usually demonstrate the characteristics of the action genre but which take place almost solely on the Western Frontiers of America. On occasion they can be set in Mexico or perhaps the Australian outback, but this is rare and by far the majority are based in America. They are set in the 19th Century and usually have a single protagonist in the lead role – a heroic character who is often something of a loner, travelling on horseback with only the clothes he is wearing and his revolver.

Iconic elements

For the faithful Western fan, the fact that so many elements are found in almost all of the films is not a concern. In fact, it makes the film seem familiar and comfortable, allowing the viewer to really enjoy watching it. These elements are symbolic of the small towns which were found on the Western frontier at that time and demonstrate their lifestyle.

Communication was achieved by the telegram and transport was by horseback or railroad. The town would have a saloon, which was the heart of the community, and one or more prostitutes would be in residence there. It would also be the place where the lone traveller, usually a cowboy, would make his entrance to the town and it would be inevitably met by a stony silence, with even the compulsory pianist stopping his playing. The gunfights would usually take place outside the saloon and the fights would almost always start inside.

Modern times

The Western, once enormously popular, has diminished in recent years. In fact since the 1970s the production of these films has all but stopped. However, a slight resurgence began in 1993, with Western hero Clint Eastwood starring in A Perfect World.

This has been followed by a handful more films which fit the Western genre but which are noticeably changed from the earlier versions. The chief difference is that they tend to be set in contemporary times, although usually still in the West of the country. The themes remain similar, with a rebellious loner hero, and the films still tell of the changes being made to make the area more civilised against the will of the citizens that live there.