In both its classic and hybrid forms, the western was pronounced dead. But now a new generation of filmgoers are welcoming it back, prompting a rebirth of the western genre, albeit in hybrid form.
Hero Complex examined the search for the new old west in Hollywood. It looked at Rango (2011), which is filled with references. Chinatown (1974), although a non-western, was again full of references to the old west. Cowboy’s & Aliens, not yet released, is a hybrid western which will see Harrison Ford and Daniel Craig battle with Aliens in the old Frontier. Let’s not forget True Grit (2010) directed by the Coen Brothers. It was a classic remake of a 1969 western which starred John Wayne, and was a huge success in cinemas. It could have been a major contributor in the rejuvenation of the flat lining western genre.
Gore Verbinski, who directed Rango said, “There’s something we love about the rise of that silhouette of the gunslinger, and the way they make that ultimate choice of reaching for that gun at their hip.” Hero Complex calls True Grit (2010) “The rare classicist in the crowd of our current crop of western themed films.” Verbinski added, “Studios see the western as limited in audience potential, unless it’s owning its iconography to a genre hybrid.” This means that westerns are still popular only if blended with something else. Verbinski went on to say, “There’s a fear of doing straight genre with a western so you see a lot of the genre splices, you know, like a lot of sci-fi films are really westerns, but I think audiences are open, or more open, they’re probably a little hungry for that simpler time, and the telling of a simpler story. I think that’s why True Grit has done so well, that and the fact that it’s wonderful.”
The coming together of Johnny Depp and director Gore Verbinski for Rango won’t be their last collaberation. The two have been in serious discussions to revive The Lone Ranger through producer Jerry Bruckheimer and Disney. Depp said, “Gore Verbinski is a rare beast and I think we’ve come up with some bits that are going to really turn the thing on its head in a way. We’re going to drop the bottom out of what’s expected of the Lone Ranger. The idea of Tonto being the sidekick is out of the question. It’s going to be a lot of fun. It’s going to places that westerns don’t usually go.”
I can say on behalf of all western fans, the premiere of the Lone Ranger will be eagerly awaited and welcomed with much enthusiasm.
Contact the Author: MikeStringer@ArtsandEntertainmentPlayground.com