Most moviegoers have seen at least one or two Western movies. Whether you liked the genre or not, Western movies are still a part of a film history that once dominated the cinemas. That’s why, as a hardcore moviegoer, it’s important to know why it even existed in the first place.
The Wild, Wild West
Western movies, or cowboy movies if you prefer that, are all about the timeless tales — of horseback riding heroes, outlaws, and the conflict with the Native Americans — which more or less tells us about the late 19th century. With the heavy setting and gunfights, it’s not really for kids to watch but for some reason, there came a time when a lot of kids wanted to be a cowboy. Not that it’s bad or anything.
Before the 1920s, films were mostly silent and black-and-white, but the Western films were immensely popular. When sound came to movies, the Western movies were pushed to the background and only produced low-budget stuff. They were mostly in televisions back then.
Around the 1930s, the films started gaining more attention again and it wasn’t until the 1950s and 60s that they dominated all the other genres combined.
Many classic films influenced some of the most popular titles in other medias, like the Fallout series in video games, Cowboy Bebop in anime, and even Star Trek and Madmax, where they combined the science fiction and the Western genre.
Riding Off to the Sunset
So where is the Western genre today? Well, it’s still there. Filmmakers still produce them but they are not as popular as the remakes of superhero movies and books-turned-into-films that are more popular today.
The most recent titles try to give a fresh perspective of the Western themes, like making women more prominent in an arguably male-dominated genre or giving the Native Americans more (albeit inaccurate) representations. Some movies are more introspective and focus on the lives of modern cowboys managing their ranches, passing down their team rope skills, A.A. Callister’s notes, or giving the audience a more realistic account of their lives.
Space-themed cowboys are gaining popularity, too, but sometimes it’s nostalgic and entertaining to watch classic tales of gun-toting, horse-riding cowboys who ride off to the sunset after their adventures.