Screen History Essay

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Introduction In this essay I will be comparing two films that fall within the Western genre by looking at them within frameworks that we have studied in this unit. The films I have chosen, The Cowboys, starring John Wayne, made in 1972 and The Gunfighter, staring Gregory Peck and made in 1950, are 22 years apart and show interesting aspects of gender portrayal in film, which I will concentrate on in this essay. The frameworks I will be analysing them under are gender, authorship and technology. There are a number of genres that are used to classify films, and aspects of films that allow them to fall under these genres. Melodrama, for example, is often centred around women, family, home, relationships and the common theme within this genre is its ability to make you want to cry (Elsaesser 1972, pp.50-51). Melodrama is believed by many film historians to have its origins in Ancient Greek history (Lecture Notes CMM10 2009, p.79). There are also sub-genres which operate within larger genres, like romantic comedies which fall under melodrama. Romantic comedies are usually marked by the genre dominant portrayal of an unrealistic relationship between a woman and a man, most often with the man saving the woman, similar to a knight in shining armour in a fairytale (Lecture Notes CMM10 2009, pp.82-82). The Western Genre The Western is a vast genre that at times in screen history has also been incredibly popular. Whilst the Western’s popularity has tapered off over recent decades, there is a lot that film historians can learn from them (Kitses 1969, p.18). Westerns as a genre are very consistent and most follow a very similar narrative. This means that for film historians to understand Westerns, they can then move on to more complex genres. Westerns are considered to be within their own paradigm as they are so pure and simple in terms of narrative and theme, and

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