A Core Element Of The Film Western

1711 Words7 Pages
A core element of the film western is the struggle between the civilizing forces of society and the resistance of the wilderness. This has been used as a common thematic element in the narrative structure of Westerns, and can be seen in the films’ portrayal of society’s expansion to the west. In these films, this expansion, which is a part of the movement to tame the Wild West, is a conflict that is played out as a battle of oppositions on the American frontier. In director John Ford’s My Darling Clementine, this fundamental aspect of the genre comes across in the main character, Wyatt Earp’s, conflict with the Clanton family, whom the audience ultimately finds out are the ones who shot and killed the youngest Earp brother. While Wyatt Earp’s status as the town marshal symbolizes the civility and order of society, the Clantons—a violent, uncivilized family in which the father uses primitive methods of discipline, such as whipping, against his own four sons—represent the wilderness of the untamed West. The symbolic importance of the characters in My Darling Clementine is also connected to Ford’s use of setting and locale. Given the manner in which Wyatt Earp enters the town and sets about bringing justice to it, his character can be seen as the embodiment of the process of civilization of the West. From a cinematographic standpoint, the shots of locations within the town differ from those of the wilderness beyond the town site. The film makes use of its visual style to
Get Access