Thursday, April 22, 2010
In the Good Bad and Ugly, Italian directors once again portray the American cowboys as savage and ruthless beasts. The cowboys throughout the film appear willing to kill anyone that crosses them in order to gain the reward at the end of the film. This also plays into the theme of the Capitalist and greedy Americans trying to gain more money and a larger share of the world economy. Essentially, Italian directors are portraying the Americans as ruthless and greedy creatures who will stop at nothing to make their money.
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
From a cultural studies perspective, spaghetti westerns like the The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly and Navajo Jo provide an Italian critique of the American classical western, and correspondingly, American society itself. The films take aspects from the classical western and exaggerate them to demonstrate, with unmistakable clarity, the foolishness and barbaric nature of the behavior. Since the classical western is a reflection of American culture, the Italian mockery of the genre also ridicules Americans. The evidence within both films of the characters’ greed and prioritization of money over all else provides a sharp jab at the American free market. Furthermore, the careless killing appears to scorn the nation’s quick use of violent force.
Navajo Joe another “spaghetti western” looks upon American society unfavorably as well. Early in the movie the town realizes the problems they are facing. Joe offers his advice by saying. “There’s only one way to get rid of your problems, kill him.” This film portrays Americans as extremely violent and that violence is an answer to all of one’s problems. This movie also points to the racism in America. The two characters of Native American heritage Navajo Joe and Estella are seen as outsiders.
Friday, April 16, 2010
Spaghetti westerns portray the European’s view of Americans. Americans in these films are depicted as violent, money-driven individuals who are willing to use any means to get to a certain end.
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
The violent nature of white Americans shown in both films is based on the U.S. involvement in Vietnam in 1966. Because the films were produced by Italian directors, it is clear that Europeans had viewed Americans as overstepping their boundaries, as reflected through Duncan and Angel Face's violent nature. The Civil War playing out in The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly again symbolizes Americans' violent nature.
Also, one of the movies shows reversal of roles. In the movie Navajo Joe we see that he (a native Indian) has been portrayed as the hero and the American white men are the bad guys, we see how Joe saves the entire village. In the regular Western, the Natives were always shown as the inferior class and the White American as the good guys.
In the movie The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, we see that all the three main characters are continuously willing to kill each other. The gold makes them all the more violent. They constantly make promises and break them. It’s no big deal for them to break their word. All they cared was about themselves and how they could make more money. In the American Western we never see an Alpha male turning back from his word. Once he had said anything, that was engraved in the rocks. No one could change that.
We see how the perspective of the International Audience is completely different from the Americans. They feel that the Americans were not to be relied on nor were they really good people who cared for the society. They were violent, and very destructive. The natives who were thought of the Salvages in the American society were actually the real Hero’s in the mind of the International people.
Similarly, in The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, the three main characters Blondie, Tuco, and Angel Eyes, all make multiple alliances and friendships throughout the film, but end up going against all of them in order to find the golden treasure. Each one is willing to back-stab the other in order to further himself in the journey to find and claim the treasure for himself. Because of this, the film is full of violence and shoot-outs, portraying the American west as an extremely violent place. This differs from American westerns where violence is present, but at a much smaller extent. Typically, American western films build up to a major encounter between two forces at the end, but the spaghetti westerns have violence throughout the entire film.
This hints towards the fact that foreign countries looked towards America as a self-serving country willing to use any type of force, whether justified or not, to achieve its goals.
Navajo Joe opens with the slaughter of Joe’s village by Duncan and his band of outlaws. This spaghetti western’s opening scene show the Indians as innocent people and the outlaws as violent murderers. They then scalp the bodies and try to get money for the scalps in town; when they hold the town under siege and attempt to rob the train that is coming with money, Navajo Joe saves the day. This movie has the roles of the Indians and the white cowboy reversed. In classic westerns, the alpha male cowboy is white and takes revenge on a band of Indians who ruthlessly attacked his family, such as in The Searchers. Navajo Joe depicts the brutal effects manifest destiny had on the Indians, slaughtered and pushed onto reservations to make way for the white man.
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly is an excessively violent film, which is characteristic of spaghetti westerns. In this film, Blondie, the alpha male cowboy, has unfaithful sidekicks who are interested in solely benefiting themselves. Blondie must trick them and fool them in order to survive and get his share of the gold. He is a unique alpha male cowboy because of this situation. He is not loyal to sidekicks since they are not loyal, and, as a result, he is only looking out for himself. He does not have any commitment to duty because he is only looking to benefit himself by finding gold. At the end, he even leaves Tuco, one of his sidekicks, in the desert with his share of the gold.
Spaghetti westerns are more violent than classic westerns. Many people, both those who are criminals and those who are innocent are murdered. Made by other counties as a comment on our society, spaghetti westerns depict America as a ruthless and violent country full of callous individuals who murder without thinking. The movies depict Americans as people who are violent by nature and looking out for their own self-interest.
Monday, April 12, 2010
Thursday, April 8, 2010
Tuesday, April 6, 2010
The second way The Unforgiven is a revisionist film is through the fact that it switches perspectives from the cowboy to the outlaw. The alpha male cowboy, Little Bill, is portrayed in a negative light and is viewed as over the top and brutal. He uses violence to assert his will, and to the audience, his will is unjust. The outlaw however, in this film Will, assumes the role of protagonist and though he uses violence to distribute justice. The justice is swift and results in the death of many men, but the viewer agrees with Will and his actions, despite of the fact that he is killing cowboys, the typical American hero.
Another revisionist theme in this movie is shown in Clint Eastwood’s character. Early in the movie the viewer learns that Eastwood’s character was once a ruthless killer and has since changed his ways. He credits his wife for these changes saying “she cured me of my wickedness.” Eastwood’s character emphasizes how his wife brought religion to his life. This differs from the view of the cowboy in traditional westerns. Getting married and giving into religion where things the cowboy that would not be seen by the cowboy in traditional westerns.
One thing about the traditional cowboy that remains constant in this film is the cowboy’s sense of duty. That being said Eastwood’s duty differs from that of the traditional cowboy. In this movie Eastwood agrees to go on the man hunt in order to provide for his children. We saw for the first time a less selfish sense of duty presented by the alpha male cowboy.
Western films typically portray blacks and women as the "other". They are never given strong roles and they are treated with less respect. In this film, Morgan Freeman plays Ned Logan, a black cowboy who is treated as an equal. This shows the changes in the West, compared to traditional Westerns films. Throughout the film, Willian Munny (Clint Eastwood) shows respect and appreciation for Ned. Bill doesn't want to complete his mission without Ned and acts histerical after Ned dies. This shows the large amount of respect that Bill has for Ned in the film, which is very uncommon for an alpha male to have that much repect for a black character.
This film also portrays Willian Munny (Clint Eastwood) as an alpha male cowboy. Although Bill isn't the strongest of the cowboys because he had trouble getting on his horse in the beginning of the film, Bill is still stong enough to be considered an alpha male. Bill's character shows the pain and stuggles that the alpha male must endure and that it is a duty that is not fit for any man. Bill has feelings which hold him back from being a true alpha male because he feels regrets when he fires his gun and has a strong bond with Ned. This is uncommon for an alpha male and this shows how throughout time, the alpha male cowboy has weakened.
Also, talking about the Alpha male character of Clint Eastwood, we see some of the typical characteristics of the Alpha male and some of the hybrid qualities. We see that his character was one that went on killing other men, women and children just because he wanted to do it and thought it was right. On the other hand we also see the part, where he is a family man, and wants to take care of his children, educate them, so that he can give them a good life. He respects his wife and although she is dead, he is not able to get involved with any other women physically. His only purpose of life had become his children. He take up the job of killing those cowboys, who had cute the women so that he can get some reward money and use it for the better lifestyle of his children. We see two different faces of the cowboy in this movie.
In revisionist westerns, women are typically viewed as housewives, but in The Unforgiven, the women are prostitutes. After one of the prostitutes gets attacked for laughing at her clients “size,” the women feel the need to rightly punish the attacker. The sheriff says that the only punishment the attacker and his ally will receive is a debt to the owner of the prostitutes; seven ponies. The women are upset at this punishment because they thought the men should have been whipped or even subject to death. Consequently, the women attempt to get justice. This is not typical of women in classic westerns because women usually don’t fight for what they want. These women were very headstrong, in that sense.
Clint Eastwood’s character, Bill Munny, is the alpha male cowboy; however he is different from the typical alpha male cowboys of classic westerns. Munny does not travel alone, and his main partner is an African American. This is uncommon in traditional westerns because the alpha male cowboy travels alone and let alone is he considered equal to an African American. Munny also has a family at home, which is also untypical of alpha males in classic westerns due to their being alone. In the end, Munny kills many innocent people. Usually the alpha male cowboy only kills and acts out of the “greater good.”
This film is very revisionist in many ways. The most important way is that the alpha male is getting revenge not for a family member, not solely for a woman, but for the death of his good friend, who happens to be an African American.
Clint Eastwood's character, William Munny, is the alpha male cowboy in the film. His character also strays from the normal mold of western films, just like Ned's. Previously, the alpha male cowboy was regarded as heroic, because even though he killed people, it was always the villain he killed, which could be justified. All of his actions were for the greater good. However, Munny's past is constantly brought up, and the viewers learn that he killed many people. The way he describes it gives the audience the feel that he regrets many of the decisions he made, and gives a negative connotation to the notion of killing people. By the end of the film, Munny takes innocent lives, thus painting a negative image of himself. This change is yet another factor that classifies The Unforgiven as a revisionist film.
Morgan Freeman’s character further breaks the mold of the traditional western. Freeman plays Ned Logan, a black cowboy and partner-in-crime to Bill Munny. Ned represents the black character, formerly cast off as an “other,” acquiring equal status with the alpha male. Bill repeatedly demonstrates his respect for Ned and commitment to their camaraderie. He refuses to take part in the mission without his old partner and in the end, is driven back to his deranged behavior after Ned’s murder.
Unforgiven is a revisionist western because of how it depicts Morgan Freeman’s character, Ned. Ned is Munny’s partner, showing that they are equals. Even when they are traveling, usually an African American character would be at the back but Ned is not; instead their order is constantly switching, showing that no one has more power than the other. They agree with Kid to split the reward money equally three ways, which is unusual since in other westerns, African Americans are not considered equals and so would not receive equal pay. Most African Americans in westerns are uneducated, but it becomes apparent that Ned is intelligent. He figures out why Kid cannot, tricking him into believing that there is a hawk in the sky to prove his theory that Kid is nearsighted. Ned’s importance and significance is shown in Munny’s acts of revenge, which adds to the plot. Ned is important enough to Munny for him to kill several men for revenge of Ned’s murder; typically the revenge is solely for something that has been done to a woman. In other westerns, the murder of a black would not matter, but Munny even calls Ned his friend and partner, proving Ned’s significance.
Munny is the alpha male cowboy who has a dark past filled with killing and drinking. He fulfills his duty, helping Kid kill the men who hurt the prostitute; he also got revenge for Ned by killing Skinny and Little Bill. He threatens to return and kill other if Ned is not properly buried or if any of the prostitutes are hurt. He is unique since he changed his ways, married, and had children, whom he returns to. He also remains loyal to his dead wife, rejecting the prostitutes’ offers. He also has Ned, his partner and friend, with whom he is equals, when many alpha males work alone. Munny’s unique characteristics make him easier for men of the time to relate to since during the 1990s the majority of the population settled down and had families.
Monday, April 5, 2010
The way Bill Munny talks about his past in the film makes it seem like he made only mistakes and violence in the current situation is not the best path. He is almost pathetic at times, because he is so weak without his wife. When he actually shoots one of the hunted cowboys, he immediately feels bad while Ned backs out altogether. Also, the boy who brags about how many men he is killed is shown in a negative light, which again degrades the alpha males status because violence is not the answer.
Ned Logan's status as an equal is one of the main elements that makes this film revisionist. Traditionally, blacks were not viewed as partners in any western before this one. Pompey for example, was just Tom Donophin's sidekick. Ned's character is almost a bigger man than Bill because he knows when to back down. He shows additional strength when he refuses to give Bill's whereabouts to the sheriff while being whipped. In the end, Bill avenges him, proving that blacks, even in the 19th century when this was set, were worth avenging.
The prostitutes in the film also take on an increased role that revises women's previous roles in Westerns. Women were traditionally the motive behind the alpha-male's actions, but never really took action until the 1970's (with some exceptions). In The Unforgiven, the women are the ones who want revenge on their peer, and take action in doing so. Granted, they need cowboys to actually kill the men, but they use their resources to accomplish the goal and are smart in hiring someone so they don't get blamed for murder.
All factors considered, this film constitutes revisionism in three ways. Even with women being abused and Bill Munny eventually shooting everyone, roles among the different sexes and races are significantly altered to glorify someone other than the white alpha male cowboy for once.
Clint Eastwood’s character, William Munny, is an alpha male cowboy, but in a much darker sense. He seems to lack respect for the law and the town, in exchange for revenge for Logan. At the end of the film, he kills Little Bill and threatens anyone else who even crosses his eyes. It’s a movement away from the typical alpha male cowboy and establishes a much more violent and ruthless one in its place. He still is fighting for good to a degree, but he is hurting many innocent and undeserving people along the way.