"Relationship of Western Film Heroes With The Community"

Essay by TrailRunner19University, Bachelor'sA+, February 2003

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Relationship of Western Film Heroes With The Community

In the genre of western films, the hero plays a key role. Humanity portrays "civilization overcoming the hostile country" (Miller 66). In many films the American Civil War is over and people have turned their attention to more constructive pursuits, such as battling nature to progress America's future rather than each other. In between this wild country fraught with danger and corruption lies the role of the hero. An individual with exceptional skills who through there abilities is able to rid a stricken town of the corrupt elements within. In many cases, however, the hero's skills are not enough. His relationship with the community can define how successful his help can be. In the films Shane and Dodge City we are presented with heroes who have attempted, somewhat successfully, to integrate themselves into their respective communities. This gives them someway to identify with the community, giving them incentive to defend it from the malicious elements that threaten them.

In Shane, we see an attempt by the films hero to subtly integrate himself into the community. Instead of riding into town, Shane (Alan Ladd) is introduced to us "through the eyes and imagination of a little boy" (Miller 67). By having Shane first meet Joey Starret, (Brandon de Wilde) he is introduced in a very personal manner that sets the tone for the whole film. Shane's motives are personal, as he wishes to escape his life as a gunman by becoming a settler. The lifestyle of the Starret family and the other settlers amplifies the notions of a simpler life that Shane finds appealing. The town near where they live is very simple and has none of the more lavish comforts of Dodge City. It offers a way for Shane to escape...