2016 - 2017
|The Western: From John Ford to Quantin Tarantino
|FACULTY OF VISUAL AND PERFORMING ARTS
The western, critic Andre Bazin once asserted, “is the American film par excellence.” While such a definitive statement may be vulnerable to challenges, it nevertheless testifies to a certain irrefutable truth: namely, that the western stands at the nexus of cinema and American identity, and is key to unlocking the secrets of both. In recognition of the genre’s importance, the class will survey the development of the western and highlight the ways through which American society used its various ingredients to define itself, its goals, and its dreams for over a century. Within this framework, we will discuss classic texts—especially from the post-WWII period of “superwesterns” (Bazin)—and connect them to more recent examples. Moreover, we will address key figures—for example, John Wayne, John Ford, Howard Hawks, Gary Cooper, John Sturges, Anthony Mann, Henry Fonda, Sam Peckinpah, Clint Eastwood, Quentin Tarantino—and investigate their influence on the familiar patterns of the genre. This inquiry will ultimately get us to the bottom of Bazin’s statement, and at the same time—explain how the western survived the fads of cinematic history, even after being pronounced dead on more than one occasion.