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Thursday, 9 June 2011

The Western revitalised

It is the most durable of film genres - according to conventional entertainment lore it should have gone the way of the music hall, silent cinema and Sylvester Stallone. It's basically a costume drama and yet the western refuses to die. The Western is back. The hats, the horses and the “howdy pardner” greetings are ALL BACK, only with a twist. This latest revival started earlier this year with True Grit, the Oscar nominated picture starring Jeff Bridges which is released on DVD this week. It is an updated, harsher, more stylish version of the 1969 movie starring John Wayne. The new film shocked Hollywood insiders when, after its first week of release in January, it became the best-selling picture in the US.

It is now the second-highest grossing Western ever after Dances With Wolves. “True Grit will still be watched and appreciated in 50 years time,” said the influential Hollywood Reporter magazine this week. This is despite the fact that the film did not win a major Oscar. This summer the most anticipated film release is Cowboys And Aliens starring Harrison Ford and Daniel Craig. It tells the story of aliens arriving in the Wild West and being stopped from taking over Earth by a group of cowboys.

This may not be your traditional western and God alone knows what the Duke would say, but western fans should embrace this movie. Who knows, it may even instil a love of westerns in young movie-goers. And while Cowboys and Aliens lights up the summer cinema screens there many more western projects in the pipeline - A new version of The Lone Ranger, starring Johnny Depp  as Tonto, will be in our cinemas later this year. Depp plans to turn Tonto into the movie’s real hero. “We’re going to turn the thing on its head and drop the bottom out of the Lone Ranger,” says producer Gore Verbinski. “People love the idea of the Old West gunslinger reaching for his gun although they always need a new twist on the story. The Western will always be with us though sometimes it might be a bit difficult to recognise.” And of course there's the little matter of  LawMaster which should start shooting early next year, and is based on my novel, The Tarnished Star.

And so we leave the final word to The Duke.

"The western-dead! That'll be the day.

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