V.20 No.43 | 10/27/2011
Butch Cassidy takes his own famous advice and goes to Bolivia in vivid revisionist Western
Used to be Westerns were standard-issue Hollywood boilerplate. From the silent era up through the ’50s, cowboy movies were the backbone of the film industry. These quick-and-easy tales of white-hat heroism were simple, escapist fare—the equivalent of cop movies in the ’80s or superhero movies today. Nowadays, with rare exception (Cowboys & Aliens, for example), when someone chooses to make a Western, it’s not some flippant wild West fantasy about good guys and bad guys. More often than not, today’s Westerns are dark, elegiac compositions about a long-faded way of life—and, by extension, a long-faded genre of moviemaking.
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