Academic Year 2009-2010

Event Title

Blurring the Lines: Good, Evil, and the Western Film Hero

Disciplines

Film and Media Studies

Description

Hardly showcasing the traits of the “white hat-black hat” caricature of the genre, Westerns offer complex moral dilemmas and characters for reflection. The most intriguing figure is the Western hero, with his unspoken code and divided identity: in between the “good” group (homesteaders or townspeople) and the “bad” group (cattle barons or outlaws), having characteristics of both.

This change occurred mainly in the “vengeance”- and “transition”-plots of the early 1950s. But the character, and perhaps the genre, reached its ultimate potential in The Man with No Name films starring Clint Eastwood. Can such a personage as these “heroes” or antiheroes be admirable or virtuous? This lecture explored how philosophy can help us to understand the characters and themes of these Westerns.

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Blurring the Lines: Good, Evil, and the Western Film Hero

Hardly showcasing the traits of the “white hat-black hat” caricature of the genre, Westerns offer complex moral dilemmas and characters for reflection. The most intriguing figure is the Western hero, with his unspoken code and divided identity: in between the “good” group (homesteaders or townspeople) and the “bad” group (cattle barons or outlaws), having characteristics of both.

This change occurred mainly in the “vengeance”- and “transition”-plots of the early 1950s. But the character, and perhaps the genre, reached its ultimate potential in The Man with No Name films starring Clint Eastwood. Can such a personage as these “heroes” or antiheroes be admirable or virtuous? This lecture explored how philosophy can help us to understand the characters and themes of these Westerns.