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Good morning. So today’s class is about the Western Classic American genre, consideredan exclusively American product along with Gangster. However, the concept existed inFrance too, but it never met the popularity of the Hollywood Western.The Western has been known to be the longest genre of all, apart from gangster cinema, and it pointsto America’s fascination with the frontier as a site of something new and better.Typology of the genre includes conflict between a civilization and the open range of or wilderness and ifyou have noticed you consider John Wayne’s The Searchers, directed by the great John Ford.These are the great directors of the western genre; John Ford, Howard Hawks and Sam Peckinpah,whose ‘The Wild Bunch, we will be discussing today.So, if you remember The Searchers by John Ford, you remember that you may recall, thatthe hero, John Wayne, he comes, arrives on the scene; he is framed in the dog way,and when the movie ends again we see him framed in the dog way. So the perennial outsider,the conflict between civilization and wilderness, and what does the hero prefer; wilderness,quest or an eternal quest. So protagonist operates as a point of conjuncture of these two opposing values.The western hero is the embodiment of rugged American individualism,who never wishes to or for some reason, who could never settle down. He follows his ownpersonal code and considered the parallel between the western hero and the gangster hero;both follow their personal code of values and ethics.The western hero’s personal code emphasizes courage, justice, fair play, compassion forthe underdog, and of course respect for women. And if you watch classic westerns, you findall these elements in the movie. Recurring themes in a classic western include quest;quest for anything, as I just said, we are never told, I mean Shane, and what is he after?George Stevens’ Shane as played by Allen Ladd; what is the quest for? He is not exactlya shadowy figure, but a mysterious enigmatic figure; who arrives from nowhere and rides out into nowhere.He just spends some time in this particular small town, rids the placeof its scum and then rides away. So people like Scorsese, the other day we were talkingabout his Taxi Driver, they were immensely influenced by the western hero,his alienation, individualism, and loneliness.Of course, it is another kind of alienation, but nevertheless.So, the western hero repeatedly shows a desire to move away from the civilizing attempts of the East,and the protagonist’s ideological belief shapes the narrative. So we go along with the hero,we relate to the hero. In other words, hero becomes our mouthpiece; theseare the ideology, these are the ideologies we believe in,and we want our hero to champion and defend those believes.And the western is also notable for the classic depictionbetween the good and the evil. So the conflict is always between the good and the bad.A brief word about the historical background and origin of the western, so the westernembodies the myth of the American frontiersman ship;frontier is represented as a site of hope for something new and better.The tradition of the cowboy as mythic hero dates back to the western dime novels,published from the 1860s. And these dime novels dramatized livesthat were both real and fictional, and elevated the cowboy to the mythic status.These dime novels also idealize the outlaws.For example, take a look at the western outlaws; Jess James, we recently had a movie The Assassinationof Jess James, Brad Pitt played Jess James. Buffalo Bill, Billy the Kid, and Butch Cassidyand the Sundance Kid; there has been a movie based on this, Robert De Niro, sorry, RobertRedford and Paul Newman. So, they were the real life out laws and the movies glamorize them as heroes.We were also talking about Bonnie and Clyde, and who were also real lifegangsters, outlaws, and glamorized in Arthur Penn’s movie.So, at this point, I would like to draw your attention to the extremely celebrated filmdirector, Sam Peckinpah who was at his peak during the 60's, and he is lovingly called Bloody Sam,because of his fascination with blood and gore on screen.One reason for this shift,especially during the late 60's toward so much of blood and gore on a screen,could be the socio-political climate in the US. We were talking about the assassination ofJFK, Martin Luther King and also Robert F Kennedy. So three major political assassinations,Vietnam War and the strong anti-war feelings, Watergate scandal and all these things exposedthe myth of the American pioneering spirit. Cinema reflects these things. So Sam Peckinpah,the Picasso of violence, celebrated for the cinema of ballets of bullets.So there is a plenty of bullets and bloodletting in Bloody Sam’s movies. And Peckinpah’s movies generallyreflect the air of pessimism, suspicion and betrayal. So western also combining the elements of noir.Peckinpah’s contribution is that he broughtthe traditional western into the gloom of a modern ironic age, when we talk about noir,and neo noir, and some and classic noir, and somewhere in between is Sam Peckinpah.So he combines the traditional western and the noir elements with the contemporary beliefs,and gives a very modern and ironic edge to his films. He achieved a fusion of the westernmyth and the existential hero. And he is an inspiration; the other day we were talkingabout Martin Scorsese, so he is an inspiration for his Scorsese, Tarantino, and Robert Rodriguez,especially with his fascination for blood and gore, and depiction of extreme graphic violence on screen.His movies are critic of violence; he felt that people have becomeimmune to violence, immune to violence because of the commercials shown on television screen,the amount of violence on television screen, and there was a need to sensitize people througha heightened stylized violence, and that is what Peckinpah aimed to do.Almost, Hemmingway’s figure, he had seen action, flown planes, ridden horses; so hewas a very glamorous, very charismatic character himself. He was an adventurous spirit andbelieved in the heroic code in the American cinema. He considered religion as a repressiveidea and most of his movies present him as an elegist for America; he is American elegist.One of his famous movies is the Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid, 1973, and you find extremeviolence, abundance of it; male camaraderie and ritualistic killing on screen,plenty of macho posturing and whisky guzzling scenes. And it is interesting to note that even kidsin Peckinpah are quite violent; it is a town full of kids who amuse themselves by swingingon the hangman's noose.So Pat Garrett is an anguished lament for the west,the west which is gone forever and will never come back. And the characters acknowledgetheir end in the west decline. You would be interested to know that Bob Dylan wrote a song,‘Knocking on Heaven’s Door’ for this particular film.Mexico is often used on the setting in Peckinpah. So after his marine service in China, he wasin the war, he went exploring in Mexico and most of his works are informed by politicalcorruption, military despots, idyllic peasants, and lawless roads. So ‘Mexico has alwaysmeant something special to me’, that is what Peckinpah says,‘my Mexican experience is never over, I am always a man of Mexico’.1974, a very unique, a very eccentric title,Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia, starring Warren Oates, Isela Vega, Aemilio Fernandez;the movie was extremely violent and it was reviled by critics as grotesque, sadistic, and obscene.It is a gothic western and it was banned in Germany, Argentina, and Sweden,we will see why. You find the image of a head in a gunny sack; it is Alfredo Garcia’s head,it rotting, and it is stinking and it attracts a blanket of flies.The message is no matter how bad a man feels; he needs to finish a job, so the person who is bringingthe head of Alfredo Garcia has a job to do, no matter how difficult it is. So, doing one’s job,however repellant that job may be, is one of the defining features of Sam Peckinpah.As the other day we were discussing Howard Hawk’s emphasis on professionalism, job satisfaction,a job well done, the same about Sam Peckinpah.So, a word about Alfredo Garcia’s history,it was made in the gap. It was 1974 movie, so made in the gap between the firsttwo parts of the Godfather trilogy; both it and Godfather the first conclude with a baptism services.In the Godfather, the first part, 1972,the liturgy was need with the famous montage; we have been talking about the montage scenein the Godfather, when we were discussing the movie as a canonical text.And el Jefe carrying his granddaughter in her christening ropes, and Bernie who has been, who has thehead of Alfredo Garcia, the father of the child, so these are the images thatwe have in Bring me the Head, the baptism scene. So there are no neat ends, and no redemption,no satisfactory closure in Alfredo Garcia.The Wild Bunch; The Wild Bunch is anotherhighly stylized rendition and celebration of violence in Peckinpah, and when it wasrecently rereleased and it was received very well, and the critics called it Pulp Fiction of its time.So we know what a cult movie Pulp Fiction is. So that is the reputation of The Wild Bunch.Interestingly heroes are aging; they are not the good-looking actors of a standard western.So we do not find someone as good looking as Allen Ladd or even Gary Cooper in Peckinpah.So these heroes of The Wild Bunch, rather the antiheros, they are agingthey are worn out, and going out for the last big job. So again emphasis is on doing a job well.There is an air of despair about them, you know the times are changing;it is not the same west anymore. And Peckinpah forever believer in the codes of masculinity;so you have plenty of macho posturing again, masculine code of honor and conduct.Loyalty towards friends the very important theme in Peckinpah.And of course the outlaws also are very much aware, that there is no hope for redemptionor a better tomorrow; but the job has got to be done.So Peckinpah heroes; typical heroes, unwashed,foul-mouthed, hard drinking, very un-chivalrous, a western hero as we just talked about,should have respect for women but you do not find that in this Wild Bunch.They have disdain for religion and moral values and moral codes of the society.You know, echoes of Hemmingway;and they are laconic, and alienated, always on the edge kind of characters but foreversearching for a cause, again in the Hemmingway tradition. They are bound by a sense of loyaltytowards each other and as we were talking about, hardcore masculine conduct.So what are they? They are unchanged men in a changing land; out of step, out of place,and desperately out-of-time; so their time is up, they are aware of this but still theyhave to move on, because they have nothing else to be done, and this is what they areknown for, and this is what they got to do. They know that suddenly a new west has emerged;9 men who came too late, and stayed too long the time is clearly up butthey cannot help it,and of course they have born too late for their own times.I will read you a passage from this classic book on the western.It is called Stagecoach to Tombstone, by Howard Hughes;not the Howard Hughes but this famous scholar, and this ishow he describes The Wild Bunch theme. The Wild Bunch is most famous, I am on page 184,‘is most famous for the two explosive shootout scenes that raised the stake in 60's screen violence.Arthur Penn’s blood splattered finale to Bonnie and Clyde was a major influence on Peckinpah,who took Pen’s blood issues top and extended it, deploying slow motionand squibs, blood filled bags attached to the actors and then exploded with a charge.Slow motion accentuates this violence, stretching death throes and coagulating the fountains of blood in midair.This is an inter cut with footage cranked at normal speed,creating surreal imagery for their star buck ambush, there were 230 people and 56 horses on set.Peckinpah’s orchestration of the pandemonium is inspired with bounty hunters, king of the outlaws.As they try to reach the horses, the bunch use members of temperance paradeas human shields and blast their way out of town, while bystanders are trampled underhorse’s hooves and mown down in the ferocious cross fire.’So this is what these people are;ruthless,killers,and extremely cruel.They would not stop at anything in order to attain their goal. I read further, ‘the strongest themein The Wild Bunch is the aged outlaw’s place in a rapidly modernizing world, during theterror reign of the (()) between February 1913 and July 1914.Posters stated unchanging man in a changing land; I just read out that quotation to you, and side notesof the bunch, you boys are not getting any younger. And Tector Goads, the older man inthe party running with brother Pike and old man Sykes makes a man wonder, if it are nottime to pick up his chips and find another game. Following the disaster of the star buck’s setup,what is left of the bunch limps out? Pike says I like to make one good score andback off; to which Dutch incredulously replies’. Back of to what? They know place to go.‘In the course of their journey Pike and Dutch talk about the past, how Thornton onceroad with them as a comrade, and how Pike was wounded when the husband of his lover,Aurora, came home unexpectedly; of their deals with Mapache, Pike says this is our last goaround Dutch, this time we do it right. They are in armaments, train robbery may harp backto the good old days, but their days are closing past, so memorable lines from the Wild Bunch.Now from Peckinpah we will move on to more general kind of western.And let us talk about the women in the western. Now this is very important to note, that womenin a western; in classic western at least, they are of two extremes.So you have the homemaker, the feminine and the civilizing womenwho are a civilizing influence on the hero.They are often damsels in distress, and very often blonde.On the other hand, the other extreme, you have prostitutes, barmaids, and rape victimsand very often dark haired,but most often they too have hearts of gold, and a soft corner for the hero.They often die to save the hero’s life. And they have been very few films with women protagonists;I mean western films with women protagonist, and one notable example is The Quick and The Dead.Are you aware of that Siddharth? No.The Quick and The Dead; starring Sharon Stone as a western, as a cowgirl in a western heroin,Gene Hackman plays the evil villain, and Russell Crowe is the hero,Leonardo DiCaprio in one of his earlier roles.‘Bad Girls’, starring Madeleine Stowe and Andie Macdowell,that is another example of cowgirls in 1994.Some classic westerns ; Great Train Robbery,of course we have been talking about this quite often in this course, and that is thefirst movie with a proper narrative, we have often talked about it. Then, Billy the Kid (1941),Buffalo Bill (1944), Stagecoach, My Darling Clementine, Red River;and this was directed by Howard Hawks, staring John Wayne and Montgomery Clift.The Man who Shot Liberty Valance,George Stevens’ Shane is starring Allen Ladd. Duel in the Sun,this is King Vidor’s picture with Gregory Peck.High Noon with Gary Cooper and Grace Kelly.McKenna’s Gold, again with Gregory Peck. And then much later, there was a lull in the western genreand its fortunes were revived with Dances with Wolvesdirected by Kevin Costner and also starring Kevin Costner;it won several academy awards. And then we had, close on the heels was The Unforgiven,starring and directed by Clint Eastwood.‘The Magnificent Seven’,starring Yul Brynner, this is the reworking of?Kurosawa’sSeven Samurai.Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, we have been talking about this Robert Redford and Paul Newman.3:10 to Yuma, I am talking about both recent version and also the classic version, the older version.Some famous directors we have already talked about that;John Fordand Howard Hawks.And actors;John Wayne is the supreme leader of the pack,followed by people like Howard Keel and then Ladd, Yul Brynner, Gregory Peck,Robert Mitchum, Gary Cooper, and later on Clint Eastwood.Red River directed by Howard Hawks is another important text of this category, 1948;where John Wayne plays Thomas Denson, a man obsessed with driving cattlefrom the South to California.So it is also a road movie of sorts about Howard Hawks; we have often been talking about him,and Andre Bazin of Cahier du cinema often proclaims Howard Hawksas one of the first and best American Auteur directors.We have already done auteur theory.Hawks began his career as a props man with Mary Pickford Company,and from the editing department he moved onto the script department and his great advantage over other newcomers for the family money.So he was not poor; he did not need to eke out a living and he could experiment.He lent some money to Jack Warner and financed some of the films by associate producers.In 1922, Hawks wrote and directed two comedy shots. And in 1923, he wrote the screenplayfor Jack Conway’s Quicksand. So that is the way the great Howard Hawks started his career.Howard Hawks’ style; he relied not just on characters and the story but alsoon the actors, so that was his strength. He gave magnificent roles to actors and drew outgreat performances from them. Dialogs and situations were often modified during the filming.So we are talking about improvisation on the sets. As the personality of the actorbecame fused with the characters he was playing, themes of male bonding often come to the fore;in all films of Howard Hawks, think Only Angels have Wings and so on.Now, coming from the classic western to the spaghetti western; in spaghetti who is the champion here?Clint Eastwood; Clint Eastwood, Sergio Leone remember that. Now I am often asked,what is the different between classic western and spaghetti?Classic westerns are filmed and they reflect the American landscapewhereas spaghettis were shot in Spain.Quite like yes, but Desperado is about gunslinger,yes; and here we are talking more about the cowboy kind of hero.So they are called spaghetti, because it was believed that they were shot in Italy,but they were basically shot in Spain and Mexico borders. And most important mostwell-known theme is Sergio Leone and Clint Eastwood, almost like John Ford, John Wayne’s combination.And invariably these movies will have its score by Ennio Morricone,so that is spaghetti.Let me also talk about another all time great, classic western,The Searchers, directed by John Ford, 1956; where the hero is a war veteranplayed by John Wayne, and he has just returned from the civil war 1861 to 65, and you findplenty of shots of landscapes, opens wide spaces. The Monument Valley was a favorite,perennial favorite of John Ford and he preferred shooting there, so that figures very prominentlyin the movie, Monument Valley.This still is taken from the real location and this location often finds place in all John Ford movies.Now the themes in The Searchers; it is a very dark, very provocative film.Hero is, and this is important, hero is openly biased againstthe Native Americans, the so-called Indians. It is morally ambiguous; the hero is simultaneouslyobsessive, racist, violent, monstrous, isolated, and tormented. And he, at one point we arealso made to realize that he is in love with his brother’s wife.So The Searchers we cannot go into too much detail, now this point, so I will take you to another seminal textof the western genre; High Noon in 1952, Fred Zimmermann directed it and Carl Foremanthe screen writer was a black listed writer, but he made quite an impact with the screenplay of High Noon.It was also it was also a response to the McCarthy period. Gary Cooper and Grace Kelly play the lead.The movie won four Oscars and the film is a political allegory aboutthe communist witch-hunt of the 50's;the idea, the theme is again an individual standing against a group of cowards in society.An important feature of High Noon is that it starts at 10:35 A.M. in the movie and ends at 12:10 noon.What does it suggest?Real time;the real time, the movie is actually taking place in real time.We are told that at 10:35 the hero is getting married and immediately after that,we have told that a bunch of crooks,these hooligans, once he had put them away in prison for a couple of years, and theyare now let out and they are coming here, coming back to the town to get their revenge on him.And everyone in the town advises him to leave; he is the sheriff there, but hejust got married and he is now posted in another town. But then he says if goons are coming,if the thugs are coming, how can I leave the town, until my successor takes over?So he is waiting for the next guy to take over and he would not run away. So he is that kindof typical American courageous hero, but in a town full of cowards; so again in allegoryof McCarthy period where friends would not stand by friends. So it in a way condemnsthe US judicial system and society; where real villains are let of easilyand the heroes are punished, and are taken to task by goons. Now let us talk about how contemporary westerncinema has redefined the myth of the western, the American western.So myth, western, and American individualism; these are the western and its rugged landscapes;how these things have been redefined,how western as a genre has been revisited in some of the contemporary films?And the key text that I would be discussing now are , No Country for Old Men by Coen brothers,and there will be Blood by Paul Thomas Anderson. Interestingly, both films were released in the year 2007.As we have been talking about the myth of the American west includes glamorizationof the west; we had narrative virtual of robbery, chase, and subsequent retribution.We have had the outlaw as the glamorized hero, and we just saw a list of heroes, the outlawswho have been canonized; so hero is an outlaw that was the myth an entire school of mythhas been focused on them, which have been centered on this glamorous, very charismatic kinds of outlaws.So, tradition of the cowboy as a mythic hero;Cowboy has always been regarded as a mythic hero of larger than life proportion.This has been heroist in several versions, including in dime novels, in literature as well as inAmerican rock music as late as in the 60s; for example, Bob Dylan’s, John Wesley Harding;Willie Nelson’s Red Headed Stranger, Kenny Rogers and Eagles’ The Hotel California.So it is nothing new for the western hero to be canonized. The west has always beenseen as a land of opportunity and happiness, and but in a movie like No Country for Old Men,the counter myth is that fate and chance govern our lives, more than free individualism.No country for old men also interrogates the idea of American individualism; both heroes,you know as played by Josh Brolin and Javier Bardem, they depend on no one, they choosenot to depend on anyone. Josh Brolin character, if you remember, he does not even confidein his wife who he loves so dearly. Javier Bardem is a mythical ghost who arrives fromnowhere and when vanishes into the thin air, even does surgery on himself.Based on Cormack McCarthy’s novel, No Country for Old Men is set in the 80's.And the title is taken from W.B. Yeats’ Sailing to Byzantium. Interestingly the ichnography of the west,the rugged landscape which is so full of hope and promise and also freedom in the traditional western,is ruggedly bleak in No Country for Old Men.The movie is more stylistically in the category of neo noir;it uses the recognizable element of, elements of noir, moral ambivalence.Both our heroes are morally ambivalent andJavier Bardem who plays Anton Chigurh is an out and out social misfit.The film addresses anxiety and response to social changes whichare right now so perceptible in the American society.The sheriff who use to be such an important part in a traditional western and also in noir;you know, we were talking about the truth seekers, the man of law, now he is on the sidelines;he is relegated to the sidelines. Tommy Lee Jones’ character, he gives usthe voice over narration, he is the sheriff here. And if you observe it closely, he adoptsa very apocalyptic tone; he does talk about existential notions free choice,but at the end the film offers no catharsis.The concept of the hero is again extremely problematic in No Country for Old Men;there is a Chigurh’s character is decidedly uncompromising,and is based on violent justice, justice according to his own warped sense or sense of the term rather.He abides by rules to enforce justice and in the process takes many innocent lives.There are several gaps in the narrative. Now we have been talking about narrative quiteoften in this course; and if you observe the movie carefully, you will understand this Llewelen,that is Josh Bolin the other hero’s death takes place off camera, off stage;we never know who killed him, right? There are many more missing details of his last moment,what was he up to, what was he doing? We know that he was heading towards the border,but who killed him finally? We would never know.The movie which begins so violently, as the movie ends,as the film progresses, the on screen blood shed reduces.So there are several gaps in the narrative and the other day, we have been talking about postmodern cinema.So the movie in, at several levels, fulfils the requirement of a postmodern narrative.At one point sheriff famously says, America has always been like this; that is a tough country,cruel and harsh, eating its sons like Satan.The idea is that people, who are given absolute power to enforce their lawsand justice on to others, ultimately end updevouring people, and there is a strong subtext here; whenever any person or any society getsunlimited power and takes it upon self, upon itself to enforce justicethen there is just mayhem and chaos all around.That is one strong message of the film.Philosophically the film hinges on the idea of absurdism. They are no heroes, decidedly;there are no heroes; you cannot call even Llewelyn a hero, because of his moral ambivalenceand there are so many things about him that we never get to know.So we do not know who is the real hero of the film?Perhaps it is the sheriff, but then he tired hero, and therefore;No Country for Old Men inverts the idea of a lone ranger, a lone hero up against an unjust society.The sheriff is the tired old man, who cannotnow undo the injustices that have been taken place, taking place around, around him so far.So there are no heroes, God is vanquished and evil is expanding in the world.The world is meaningless; there is no sense and no order in the world around us. And nothing happensnothing reasonable happens; so there is no logic, there is no cause and effect sensewhich was something, such an integral part of the traditional western, there somethinghappens and which leads to a consequence. Here people suffer without sense,without any logic; so very absurdist in its philosophy.The movie has judged the best film of 2007,and also it was awarded for its very breath taking photography by Roger Deakins.It beat films like Juno, Michael Clayton,and also Atonement;not to forget There will be Blood also.It emerged as the best movie of that year, and Javier Bardem won best performanceby an actor in a supporting role, we are talking about the academy awards.Now, There will be Blood; let us talk about how There will be Blood subverts the mythof the American western and individualism. As we all know, initially the west was taken awayfrom the Indians by prospectors and speculators, and remaining land was sold to the pioneers,who were the settlers from the East. By the 1890's the Western Frontier was declared closed.The pioneers are the founding fathers in the American literature have been celebrated inthe works of Walt Whitman, Mark Twain, James Cooper, and there has been a strong feelingof identification with these founding fathers. In fact, many of the American literary heroes,they construct their identity; their identities rather based on the myths of these pioneers,the founding fathers of the nation.The pioneers were celebrated in a movie calledThe Westerner, 1940, which is about individuals fighting the capitalist, the railroad owners,the all tycoons, and the banks. So the movie starred Gary Cooper, again in the role whichhe had play to perfection in several movies including High Noon; the hero as a lone ranger,individual against society. How The West Was Won by John Ford again deals with the ideaof west world expansion of the 19th century. It includes many important events like thegold rush, the civil war, discovery of the oil wells, and the building of the railroads.John Wayne's Alamo, one of his pet projects and a very successful movie, again capitalizeson the quest for adventure and was meant to foster the spirit of nationalism and patriotismamong the American people. He also, John Wayne, you know very;shall I use the word in a very megalomaniac way, took it upon himself to cultivate a senseof history and pride in America’s past through this movie. There will be Blood is an indictmentof American capitalism and the myth of the frontiers man and cowboys who embodied individualism.The film is an interrogation of deep sense of competitiveness among Americans and alsothe deep sense of acquisitiveness; as Daniel Plainview as played by Daniel Day Lewis and declares,I have a competition in me. Based upon Upton Sinclair’s novel Oil which waspublished in 1927, the film is set in 1898 during Southern California oil boom.And the first 15 minutes of the film are eerily silent. If you have watched Sergio Leone, Once upona Time in the West and also his once upon a Time in America, also Kubrick’s 2001;you will find how important the opening scenes are, and how minimalistic the dialogue is.So, there is hardly any dialogue in the first 15 minutes of the film as we just see DanielPlainview roug