Genre, The Postmodern, And American Western Cinema:A Study Of The Films Of Clint Eastwood, Quentin Tarantino, And Joel And Ethan Coen
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Western genre film is a cornerstone of American cinema. Throughout the 20thcentury, its formal content and set of values helped to define to other nations and to American citizens how we perceivedourselves, as it endeavoredto immortalize and mythologize our founding and development. The genre has evolved dramaticallyover since its inception, and to this point that evolution has been divided criticallyat the year 1945. Every western film that came before that year is now considered “Classical,”and every film since called either “Postwestern”or “Neowestern.”In this project, I strove to complicate ournotion of these divisions by examining three films produced in the last 25 years: Clint Eastwood’s Unforgiven(1992), Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained(2012), and Joel and Ethan Coen’s No Country for Old Men(2007).I examine each of these films as a case study through the lenses of genre theory,and the current critical landscape surrounding each film individually. In doing so, I conclude thatthe current categories defining western cinema cannot adequately contain these films, and so I create a new category which I believe more accurately describes them: the Postmodern Western.