Western Film The Enduring Genre

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorCollege, Undergraduate August 2001

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Western Films The Historical, Entertaining & Enduring Genre Western films provide refreshing portrayals of American history that serve as a reminder of basic values often forgotten in today's society while furnishing a rich source of entertainment. Unlike most film styles, western films are usually based on American frontier life in the late eighteen hundreds. Whether they are set in rugged terrain or beautiful wide-open landscapes, western films have been entertaining audiences for over one hundred years, making them one of the most enduring film genres in American history.

Western films reveal the historical struggles and triumphs of early settlers living or moving to the western portion of America. Films such as "Dances With Wolves", "The Oregon Trail" and "Bend of The River" reflect early settler's movements into the untamed and mysterious regions west of the Mississippi River. Other films like "Tombstone" and "Santa Fe Trail" depict the lives of famous historical figures such as Jim Brown, Wyatt Earp and Doc Holiday.

While some western films embellish historical facts for entertainment purposes, they all, at minimum, present a general feeling of early western life and the values that made our country and these films great.

Although the historical foundations of western films create a realistic image about early western American culture, it is the entertainment provided by these films that have captivated audiences for over a century. Story lines that include gunfights, saloons, old forts, Indians, cattle drives, and homesteaders, to name a few, capture the hearts of many viewers. In recent years, two western films, "Unforgiven" and "Dances With Wolves" where recognized for their entertainment value both receiving academy awards for best picture. Both of these films employed majestic musical scores, beautiful scenery, detailed costumes and accomplished actors to entertain audiences. In addition, both "Dances With Wolves" and "Unforgiven" share...