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the tin star vs. unforgiven

the tin star vs. unforgiven - Zea 1 Taylor Zea Drew Casper...

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Zea 1 Taylor Zea Drew Casper Kristin 11 AM Thursday 15 November 2006 Generic Evolution of the Western Film The Hollywood genre film takes into account the collective response of the audience to form viewer expectation. This genre socializing influence involves narrative elements of character, plot, and setting as well as thematic issues. Values and ideals associated with the Western myth allow for classification of specific films into the Western genre. An active but indirect cultural participation acts as a shaper of the Western film on screen by reflecting attitudes of the time period and reactions to cultural issues. Over time, these conventions, themes, and iconography evolve or deconstruct the Western genre myth while still holding onto some of the key elements necessary to remain a Western film. The Tin Star (1957) and Unforgiven (1992) both characterize different periods of development in the Western genre although they do hold many of the same Western conventions and iconography symbolic to the Western genre. Anthony Mann’s postclassical direction begins the evolution of Western filmmaking from its classical stereotype, but Clint Eastwood’s Unforgiven proceeds even further into the postmodern reevaluation and critique of the Western myth. “The Western is one of the first genres to have established itself at the onset of the film age” (Berg 10), and its long history has developed a strong set of conventions, icons, and myths. A Western’s formal elements and visual conventions provide a frame for the
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Zea 2 story, but they do not determine the meaning of the film. Rather through the setting, clothes, tools, and physical objects, the underlying theme can be employed and acted on by the characters. What makes the two films Western is their use of common attributes of that genre. The setting of deserts, plains, saloons, jails, hotels, and ranch houses depict the landscape, and carriages or horses for transportation. Wide-rimmed hats, spurs, boots, and leather chaps further enhance the Western iconography. The principal weapon of guns and whips are another trademark of the Hollywood Western genre (Buscombe 15). All of these formal elements and icons make the viewer accept the film as a Western generic film. Mann and Eastwood may then alter the predictability and status quo of classical Westerns to convey the theme and meaning of each film. The transition from the postclassical The Tin Star to the postmodern Unforgiven includes a generic evolution- “the process by which a genre’s basic assumptions are loosened for reexamination and rearticulation” (Berg 215). The Tin Star qualifies as a postclassical piece in that it represents a “psychological” Western. Americans after World War II became saturated with the classic Western formula and also more cynical about sociopolitical realities. The Western hero’s motivation and sense of mission changed with the image of the Western community. Society held such high expectations and
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the tin star vs. unforgiven - Zea 1 Taylor Zea Drew Casper...

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