Walk this Way presents five contemporary Westerns

The Western is the quintessential genre film, celebrating lonely heroes riding through a wild and untamed world free from the constraints of civilised and capitalist society. Their manecheism allows these films to be instilled with the anguish and political imagery of their era, with honour and freedom invariably remaining their moral compass.

Following the Westerns of Hollywood’s Golden Age (embodied by John Wayne in John Ford’s films, amongst others) and Sergio Leone’s Spaghetti Westerns, the genre saw cyclical success ranging from B movies to the masterpieces of Sam Peckinpah or Clint Eastwood.

Since 2010, there have been some surprisingly good contemporary adaptations, all bringing their own touches to the genre, while still remaining faithful to it. We look back over five such films:

Gold by Thomas Arslan, 2013

In Gold, director Thomas Arslan portrays the Gold Rush at the end of the 19th century from the point of view of a group of Germans (Nina Hoss) who are plunged into the hellhole that is the famous American ‘wilderness’ all for the sake of a handful of nuggets. It premiered in competition at Berlin and now features in our new collection: Men on the Edge. It will be available on video on demand from 4 April. 

True Grit by the Coen brothers, 2011

In 2011 the Coen brothers gave a new lease of life to the Western genre with True Grit, a magnificent epic of revenge, and, on this occasion, they chose to avoid the eccentric storylines of their preceding films in order to accomplish their goals. 

The First, the Last by Bouli Lanners, 2016

On an endless prairie, two bounty hunters are looking for a stolen telephone containing some very sensitive information. Bouli Lanners’ road trip follows the genre’s codes to a T in this contemporary Belgian version of a Western. The film, described by a Belgian newspaper as “an incredibly human contemporary Western”, was unveiled with an advance screening at the 2016 Berlin Festival.

Two Men in Town by Rachid Bouchareb, 2014

Presented at the 2014 Berlin Festival, Two Men in Town, set on the New Mexico plains, recounts the road to redemption undertaken by Garnett and features two cult actors: Harvey Keitel and Forest Whitaker. This feature film has featured in the Walk this Way video on demand catalogue since 2015 as part of the Men on the Edge collection. Find out more here.

Django Unchained by Quentin Tarantino, 2012

Quentin Tarantino’s first foray into the world of Westerns in 2012 (followed in 2015 by The Hateful Eight), Django Unchained tackles the themes of racism and slavery. By introducing these issues into the seminal mythological narrative of American History, he achieves a masterstroke, scrupulously respecting the form of the genre in order to better interpret what is at the heart of this film.

01 April 2016, by Cineuropa