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Author Topic: Best Westeern ever!  (Read 9280 times)
stanton
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« Reply #30 on: May 18, 2014, 02:31:02 PM »

His being an outsider has as more to do with an ingrained sense of superiority. Thursday knows best because he went to West Point and came from a wealthy Eastern family. Screw York and O'Rourke and the others who've actually served out West. In no way does Thursday strike me as a positive or sympathetic character.



My view on Thursday does not turn him in a positive character, it only makes him more understandable. Apart from his inability to deal with other people, and to compensate his lack of love and his general unhappiness with strict rules and regulations, his real flaw is that he is also a racist. Which makes him underestimate the Indians. This all leads to the catastrophe (from the white man's point of view).

Being a complex character and an understandable one I care more for his death than if he were only a simple villain. This makes the ending work for me on several levels.

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« Reply #31 on: May 18, 2014, 03:31:06 PM »

Jenkins keep harping on the "redemptive death" theme which seems, at best, a minor mitigation of Thursday's sins. Is Richard III any less of a villain for dying in battle? More to our purposes, is Frank from OUATITW absolved of mass murder for manfully facing Harmonica in a duel? (As the movie's first-billed character you could argue he's as much protagonist as Jill.) That's a very slender reed on which to base an argument
I was careful, I think, not to use a term like "redemptive" anything, because what I'm talking about is a pre-Christian concept. Likewise, the term "sins" isn't helpful. And bringing Richard III or Frank from OUATITW in only causes confusion by needlessly mixing categories.

I was talking about tragedy, and the analog I pointed to was Oedipus. Here is what Wikipedia (lightly edited) has to say on the subject:
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Aristotle wrote in his work Poetics that tragedy is characterized by seriousness and involves a great person who experiences a reversal of fortune (Peripeteia). Aristotle's definition can include a change of fortune from bad to good as in the Eumenides, but he says that the change from good to bad as in Oedipus Rex is preferable because this induces pity and fear within the spectators. Tragedy results in a catharsis (emotional cleansing) or healing for the audience through their experience of these emotions in response to the suffering of the characters in the drama.

According to Aristotle, "the structure of the best tragedy should not be simple but complex and one that represents incidents arousing fear and pity—for that is peculiar to this form of art." This reversal of fortune must be caused by the tragic hero's hamartia, which is often mistranslated as a character flaw, but is more correctly translated as a mistake (since the original Greek etymology traces back to hamartanein, a sporting term that refers to an archer or spear-thrower missing his target). According to Aristotle, "The change to bad fortune which he undergoes is not due to any moral defect or flaw, but a mistake of some kind." The reversal is the inevitable but unforeseen result of some action taken by the hero. In addition, the tragic hero may achieve some revelation or recognition (anagnorisis--"knowing again" or "knowing back" or "knowing throughout") about human fate, destiny, and the will of the gods.
This, I submit, is pretty much what happens to Fonda's character in FA. It's true that his "mistake" gets a lot of people killed. But leaders in war get people killed even when they successfully execute well-thought-out plans and win the day. In tragedy, the deaths of the many are just background. At the beginning of Oedipus Rex, perhaps hundreds in Thebes have died because of a terrible plague. Oedipus, as king, begins a search to determine the cause of the plague. His investigation reveals that he himself is the cause. When he learns this, he takes responsibility--he judges himself and immediately executes sentence. The fear and pity that Oedipus arouses at that moment is what makes him great. To my way of thinking, a bit of that tragic stature adheres to Thursday at the end of FA.

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« Reply #32 on: May 18, 2014, 05:18:34 PM »

Hmm, I don't think I hallucinated this post:

In fact, by choosing to die with his men, he partially redeems himself.

Textually there's not much to suggest Thursday is tragic, except for those who die through his stupidity. He has sympathetic or pitiable traits, I'll agree with you and Stanton on that level. But most tragic heroes, even Oedipus, have some qualities to mitigate their flaws - doing the wrong thing for the right reasons, idealism later betrayed or in the example you choose, inexorability of fate.

Thursday has nothing but self-advancement driving him, not even an abstraction like patriotism. He doesn't suddenly change from good to bad through decision or circumstance. He's a jerk from the word go, implied through his interactions with Collingwood and O'Rourke to have been one before coming west, and doesn't really advance beyond that (if anything he grows more entrenched in his jerkishness). Admitting his mistake in time to die nobly is very small consolation. Certainly you can't claim him the victim of "fate," unless you're applying a Marxian view of history's inevitability.

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« Reply #33 on: May 18, 2014, 05:37:50 PM »

Either way, this is strange. We've been discussing Fort Apache in a OUTATIW thread and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance in a Fort Apache thread. Should we discuss OUATITW in the Liberty Valance thread to bring things full circle? Cheesy

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« Reply #34 on: May 18, 2014, 10:01:06 PM »

and even if his causing the death of his own men through his arrogance doesn't make him a bad guy, what about his being dishonest with the Indians? In the view of this movie, Indians aren't evil (Wayne, the positive character, is respectful of Indians; the character considered most evil in this movie is the Indian agent who has mistreated them.) So, in the view of this movie, Indians are decent people who deserve to be treated as such, and Thursday treats them as dogs. That makes him a negative character. Yes, by the end, he probably regrets having brought his men on this suicidal charge. But there is nothing to suggest that he regrets his actions toward the Indians. He'd love to take back the deaths of his own men, but he doesn't give a damn about having deceived the Indians and forced them into battle. Therefore, he is indeed a negative character - not a flawed hero, but a negative character who isn't purely evil but is clearly portrayed negatively IMO.

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« Reply #35 on: May 18, 2014, 10:16:54 PM »

Either way, this is strange. We've been discussing Fort Apache in a OUTATIW thread and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance in a Fort Apache thread. Should we discuss OUATITW in the Liberty Valance thread to bring things full circle? Cheesy

yeah  Grin

I provided links in the threads of FA and TMWSLV to the discussion in the other threads, so that anyone reading those threads will be aware that there is further discussion about that movie in the other threads

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« Reply #36 on: May 25, 2014, 03:41:28 AM »



I was talking about tragedy, and the analog I pointed to was Oedipus. Here is what Wikipedia (lightly edited) has to say on the subject:This, I submit, is pretty much what happens to Fonda's character in FA. It's true that his "mistake" gets a lot of people killed. But leaders in war get people killed even when they successfully execute well-thought-out plans and win the day. In tragedy, the deaths of the many are just background. At the beginning of Oedipus Rex, perhaps hundreds in Thebes have died because of a terrible plague. Oedipus, as king, begins a search to determine the cause of the plague. His investigation reveals that he himself is the cause. When he learns this, he takes responsibility--he judges himself and immediately executes sentence. The fear and pity that Oedipus arouses at that moment is what makes him great. To my way of thinking, a bit of that tragic stature adheres to Thursday at the end of FA.

Ain't Oedipus usually this slash Pa / knoodle-noodle Ma thing?

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« Reply #37 on: May 25, 2014, 03:45:17 AM »

and even if his causing the death of his own men through his arrogance doesn't make him a bad guy, what about his being dishonest with the Indians? In the view of this movie, Indians aren't evil (Wayne, the positive character, is respectful of Indians; the character considered most evil in this movie is the Indian agent who has mistreated them.) So, in the view of this movie, Indians are decent people who deserve to be treated as such, and Thursday treats them as dogs. That makes him a negative character. Yes, by the end, he probably regrets having brought his men on this suicidal charge. But there is nothing to suggest that he regrets his actions toward the Indians. He'd love to take back the deaths of his own men, but he doesn't give a damn about having deceived the Indians and forced them into battle. Therefore, he is indeed a negative character - not a flawed hero, but a negative character who isn't purely evil but is clearly portrayed negatively IMO.


But nobody said that he isn't a negative character. Being the real protagonist of the film does not make him a hero (which he isn't by any stretch of imagination), does not mean he must be positive.

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« Reply #38 on: June 20, 2014, 03:33:01 PM »

Taking this opportunity to correct my previous typing error under Subject, I would like to mention that I just finished watching on TCM/HD the Western ¨Firecreek ¨ with Henry Fonda and James Stewart. I noticed that both OUATITW and Firecreek were made in 1968; that Henry Fonda plays the villain and the resemblance with Frank, specifically with the bearded or unshaven Frank are striking. Question for me, who inspired who?

Fonda appeared in Italy based on his bad guy in FIRECREEK. Unshaved with dark lenses covering his blue eyes. That was Hollywood's idea of turning Mr. America into a villain. We know how Leone reacted to it Smiley
And sure, Firecreek is an embarassing film, a disgrace really considering the fact that Fonda & his best friend Stewart co-starred for the very first time. You can't give a Disney Director such a film. Their 2nd film under the direction by Gene Kelly was much better.

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« Reply #39 on: June 20, 2014, 03:35:58 PM »

Their 2nd film under the direction by Gene Kelly was much better.

Better, yes, but not that great either.

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