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Author Topic: The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007)  (Read 79240 times)
cigar joe
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« Reply #150 on: October 28, 2008, 06:10:27 AM »

No not if we hold to strict standards, but I don't think we have any at the moment.

Here is my new "crusade" so to speak.  (from a previous post on Golden Age Westerns)

One thing about Westerns that I've been contemplating about and trying to put a finger on is what exactly is different about todays Westerns. For some reason they don't seem the same as the Classics. You'll you read comments that various posters say about some of the few Westerns that come out comments like "they don't make them like they used to", or "they don't know how to make them anymore". Besides some of the obvious differences i.e. steady/shaky cam, cgi and blue screen, what else is making them seem different?

I think I've finally got it figured out and what it is is that is difference is that Westerns that were made in the 1939-1973 "Golden Age of The Western" (both in film & TV) have a certain pallet, part of it is a look that we who lived through that period or those of us that are Western Aficionados or just have seen a lot of Westerns recognise as being the "correct look" for a Western  a feel that is the "correct feel" for a Western and certain traits that comprize the "correct deportment's" for a Western. Once you get those conventions correct then you can, within those conventions,  try and push the envelope in a creative way, as for example Spaghetti Westerns did.

I just concentrated on the hat as a focal point, in the "A Treatsie On Just WTF Is Up With The Cowboy Hat" thread  because that is one of the first things I've noticed about modern Westerns the unusual amount of huge Stetson cowboy hats (I wouldn't be suprized in the least if Stetson or Resitol is paying for product placement in these films) which it seems are propped on the heads of contemporary actors no matter how stupid it makes them look.
The treatsie shows through historical photographs that not everyone in the west wore ten gallon style Stetsons in fact Stetsons weren't even around until a decade after the Civil War. 
 
Granted that during that time period for the Golden Age Western there was a gradual flexability in character motivations between 1939 and and the early 1960's, look at the controversy surrounding the psychological Westerns and notably "High Noon". Later a more jarring one with comming of the anti hero in the Spaghetti Westerns, but the conventional look stayed generally within the same boundaries. We also had a more realistic depiction of violence ratcheted up over that period........

Forget the hewing close to historical accuracy BS, or trying to hard to get the archaic speech patterns correct, the more modern directors attempt to make a Western too true to the actual historical West the farther they get away from the classic Western Genre and its look. 

Watching a Western should be like slipping into a comfortable old pair of shoes.

Its almost like trying to make a modern Film Noir,  it just doesn't look quite right. The difference with Film Noir and Neo Noir is for more obvious and readily understandable reasons, in Neo Noir everything looks to crisp, clear and new, you don't have that contemporary for the time post WWII rundown shabby outdoor locations and can't get new stockfootage to match the old look, nor do you have,  the steam locomotives the rolling stock, etc., etc., Noir was contemporary with the historical time it was shot and you are not shooting in Black & White on top of all that. 

For Westerns it shouldn't be THAT hard to get that classic look and old pair of shoes feeling correct, its just costuming, and the classic landscapes can be revisited and give an instantaneous cachet to a project and there are still a lot of great untapped landscapes out there available that are way more accessible in this day and age than in the past.

So "Assassination  of JJ" is in reality either Bio Pic or Historical Costume Drama.


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« Reply #151 on: October 28, 2008, 07:41:48 AM »

That's it. We agree. I had no doubt about that.  Cool

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« Reply #152 on: October 28, 2008, 08:31:06 AM »

On what planet is Gone With the Wind a Western Titoli? You and Sergio are the two people I've ever heard refer to it as such. Roll Eyes

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« Reply #153 on: October 28, 2008, 10:02:53 AM »

Same planet where The Assassination is.

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dave jenkins
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« Reply #154 on: October 28, 2008, 11:39:14 AM »

Quote
Forget the hewing close to historical accuracy BS, or trying to hard to get the archaic speech patterns correct, the more modern directors attempt to make a Western too true to the actual historical West the farther they get away from the classic Western Genre and its look.

This is the kernel of your observation, and a solid one. "Westerns" aren't about U.S. history at all (except in regard to certain stage properties) and are instead related to such other genres as classical epic, medieval romance, and modern adventure tales. Odysseus, Orlando, Conan, John Carter, Shane, and The Man With Many Names are all cousins. To make a good Western, then, you have to pretty much ignore the historical record and tap into the great archetypes. The West, on this view, is a place rather than a period, a twilight world suspended between timelessness and eternity (cue Fanfare).

As it happens, 19th Century U.S. history, though a separate realm, is also interesting and worth treating cinematically. But how do you present such a setting and avoid the Western label? Clearly, the film industry is not equipped to draw such distinctions, and how many viewers can be bothered either? Sure, the 8 people who regularly post on this board can get exercised over the matter, but that's about where it's all going to end. For practical purposes, there will never be a separation between Westerns and 19th Century U.S. historical films, so it would be counter-productive to insist on one for this board. We need to give newcomers and visitors a break.

Meanwhile, the question arises: are people even making Westerns anymore? Maybe all we're getting is historical epics in Western clothes. Maybe the last actual Western was made back in the 70s.

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« Reply #155 on: April 25, 2009, 07:12:55 AM »

Okay, you listened to me, here's your reward:



Can it be my reward, too? Cheesy That's one shot that really caught my eye in the film, more than anything else.

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