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Myth of the WesternNew Perspectives on Hollywood's Frontier Narrative$
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Matthew Carter

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780748685585

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: January 2015

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748685585.001.0001

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. A Good Man With a Gun

. A Good Man With a Gun

(p.29) 1. A Good Man With a Gun
Myth of the Western

Matthew Carter

Edinburgh University Press

The first chapter begins by discussing the terms by which the classical Western has been analysed: the promotion of the myth of the West, the substitution of myth for history, and the promotion of heroic individualism. Drawing across a wide range of Western film scholarship, it describes the Western in relation to genre evolution theories and their political-allegorical variants. A case study reading George Steven's Shane as a classical Western brings together the interrelated myth and genre issues raised in this first section. A critical discussion of the classical Western's attitude towards Native Americans, drawing on the writings of Turner and Roosevelt, is also initiated. The chapter then challenges the proclaimed simplicity of the classical Western and concludes by offering a counter-conventional reading of Shane. It argues that Shane contains a series of counter-historical aspects within its narrative that suggests that the film's socio-cultural, political and historical dimensions are far more apparent and complex than is allowed for in the classical schema, or the evolutionary and mythological readings.

Keywords:   Classical Western, Myth of the West, Genre Theory, History, Heroic Individualism, Native Americans

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