Now, dear reader chums, you’ve put up with me for over a year now, so I think maybe it’s time I came up with something else for you to sink your teeth into other than my reviews and occasional Top Tens. The idea I had was Film & TV Curiosities, and the general gist is that maybe once a month or so I put to you guys something that has crossed my mind regarding just about anything on the box. Have a read of issue no. 1, which starts with a question that I strongly believe to be worth mulling over, and let us know what you think 🙂
Something occurred to me the other day when the best bitch sent me a link for the teaser trailer of the reboot/remake of The Magnificent Seven which is to be released later on this year. During the past year alone, there have been four westerns released that have all been very well received, and it would seem that there are a handful more planned for release throughout the course of 2016-2017 – not too bad for a genre that was deemed to be down and out a few years back.
There is no doubt that it is a genre that has dwindled in success and popularity in recent times. IMDB’s Top 100 Most Popular Westerns date back all the way to 1939 – somehow I don’t think that. If we were to do the same search for dramas or thrillers we’d quite achieve a 76 year backlog. This could be down to a multitude of reasons, but the fact cannot be ignored that as the dates pass the millennium, westerns get fewer and farther between.
However, in the last five or six years, the production of westerns have slowly but surely been on the rise, despite films such as The Lone Ranger causing critics to declare that the genre had died a death. In 2010, the Coen brothers released a reboot of True Grit which I hugely enjoyed, and how could anyone possibly forget the way Quentin Tarantino marked twenty years of directing with the smash Django Unchained in 2012. During the previous twelve months there has been Slow West, The Salvation, Bone Tomahawk and, of course, Tarantino’s latest release, The Hateful Eight. It would seem that the critics were wrong, and that a resurgence is taking place.
I’d put this down to two films that I have just mentioned, and as much as I enjoyed it, True Grit isn’t one of them – I love the work of the Coen brothers, but I don’t think their work is as widely recognised as that of Tarantino amongst younger audiences who had a very positive response to the stylised masterpiece that was Django Unchained. It had tremendous performances and was a marvellous bit of fun that reminded us all of just how wonderful a good western can be. Above all though, it was original. Yes, it took inspiration from 1966’s Django, but it breathed new life into what many would dismiss as a tired genre.
The other film for me would be last year’s Slow West. It was director John Maclean’s first film for cinema release and I think it’s fair to say it was a success. Throughout the whole piece there was the constant threat of violence, culminating beautifully in a full-on end sequence, and there was an undertone of very dark, but very funny humour that I think went down well with all who have seen it. The film was Coen-esque and breath-takingly shot – a real treat for whoever takes the time to see it.
So there you have it, and with the handful of westerns billed for release over the next twelve months, it is really just time to answer the question of whether westerns have earned themselves a well-deserves rebirth. As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts on the resurrection of the genre, so tell me, what do you think?