‘The Great Train Robbery’ & 9 More Westerns That Defined the Genre
, 2023-01-01 15:00:00,
Westerns are primarily defined by their setting: the American Western frontier, specifically in the mid to late 1800s. But despite traditional associations with uncomplicated shoot-em-up fare in a time long past, the genre has evolved and shape-shifted through the ages. The films that define the genre have become ever-more sophisticated and the stylistic elements, visual tropes and archetypal figures associated with the Western have elevated the genre beyond a mere time and place setting. The canon of classics is now one of rich and varied offerings.
Exploring the films that have come to be synonymous with the genre through the ages, the evolution of the Western becomes clear. Though the films that define the genre have progressed, they have maintained a genealogy with their predecessors.
‘The Great Train Robbery’ (1903)
The Great Train Robbery is a Western from the silent era of film that defined the narrative direction of the genre. It was not the first Western, but stands as a significant early example of the elements of storytelling that continued to arise in the genre.
The film depicts the archetypal trope of a band of “baddies” robbing the train, versus righteous law enforcers. It portrays a shoot-out, pursuit on horseback and a finale that sees retribution enacted. These elements would continue to show up in Westerns for years to come. Containing one of the…
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