[Notes] Film Genre Reader IV by B. Grant.

  • 517qs1wzipl-_sx324_bo1204203200_“The western is founded, then, on a tremendously rich confluence of romantic narrative and archetypal imagery modified and localized by recent American experience— the potential source of a number of conflicting but interrelated streams of thought and imagery.” [Grant. 2012:224]
  • “Actual people became the basis of heroes of dime-novel sagas in a constant process of romanticizing actuality in the service of sentimental fiction and the adventure story. The western was also taken up on the stage, becoming one form of melodrama, sometimes with famous western characters playing themselves, and in the Wild West show. In addition to these developments, the representations of the West in American painting may well have influenced attitudes and helped to create a specifically visual repertoire of western imagery. It is difficult to locate with any precision the film western’s debt to these sources, but there are several potentially interesting areas. It is plausible to suggest that landscape painters, themselves probably influenced by contemporary attitudes, should in turn have contributed to ways in which the American landscape was thought of, both in terms of its sublimity and wildness and in terms of the American mission of domesticating the wilderness.” [Grant. 2012:224-225]
  • “Obviously enough, this kind of realism is not peculiar to the western— it is a feature of most narrative genres in the American cinema. But a tension between a realism of presentation and a much greater degree of abstraction at other levels does seem characteristic of many westerns— the low mimetic realization “anchors” and gives credence to other, more abstract elements: romantic narrative structures, plots inherited from melodrama, the simple moral framework of sentimental fiction. In the last section of this essay I want to illustrate this kind of tension as one way in which the conflicting elements of the tradition contribute to the richness of the western. In some films, this tension produces a resonance we tend to associate with symbol. The simultaneous presence of the solid surface and a high degree of abstraction elsewhere causes an oscillation of response from one level to another, an awareness that the narrative flow is not the sole source of meaning, but that it is accompanied by another dimension, intimately tied to it but supplying another kind of meaning. Neither the realism of the surface nor the underlying abstraction dominates in such a context, but a balance is achieved between the two, a relationship analogous to that between denotation and connotation in Roland Barthes.” [Grant. 2012:246]


Bazerman, C., 2004. Intertextuality: How texts rely on other texts. What writing does and how it does it: An introduction to analyzing texts and textual practices, pp.83-96.


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