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|The Myth is Everything
"The important thing is to make a different world, to make a world that is not now. A real world, a genuine world, but one that allows myth to live. The myth is everything." Sergio Leone on western films
Almost twenty five years after their release the camps are still divided between Tombstone (1993) and Wyatt Earp (1994) with the favor leaning more towards the action packed Tombstone.and the Val Kilmer portrayal of Doc Holliday. Italian filmmaker Sergio Leone's quote is quite literally true, proving it by retooling our western frontier history into a truly distorted mythical west with "The Man with No Name" films as well as the classic epic, Once Upon a Time in the Old West; and in so doing created household names of actors who had already been around the western genre for the better part of a decade or even longer. Clint Eastwood, Charles Bronson, and perennial bad guy Lee Van Cleef, all became stars while creating a whole new sub-genre known as the 'Spaghetti Western' along the way; a sub-genre that wasn't all that original to begin with having it's basis in Japanese Samurai classics. Never-the-less it took a European director to reminded us that the myth of the west may far out way the legend while stateside film makers were set on a revisionist version of the western with films like, Little Big Man, Soldier Blue, Dirty Little Billy and a sordid little film named, Doc; purportedly the true tale of the events surrounding the Gunfight at the OK Corral.
In other words, Europe threw our westerns back in our face while, in somewhat absurdist interpretations, while giving us back the mythical heritage therein.By the time Tombstone and Wyatt Earp came around we had been given a varied mix of sub-genre's within western sub-genres; from the sullen restructuring of Clint Eastwood, to the violent discordance of maverick Sam Peckinpah to the 'by-the-book' regularity of John Wayne. Each with their own take on western legends and myths.
Tombstone and Wyatt Earp are different and yet they are the same in many way. But what separates them as entertainment? That's the crux of the matter for those of us who enjoy Western films.
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|Studied film in university. At the time I was going to become a director. Sergio Leone was on our "must watch" list. That led me to Eastwood (though I'd actually seen him in Rawhide without realizing it) and after watching Play Misty For Me (not western) I knew he was going to be a director to whom we would be paying much attention. The Dirty Harry films (modern day "westerns" ) were an interesting domestic extension of the foreign Spaghetti western genre. "Well, do ya, punk?"
I ended up being a "director" of another sort, both in the corporate world and as a director of my own entrepreneurial life.
Gotta love the wonderful gift of the western myth.
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