Monday, 22 October 2012

Rollin', Rollin', Rollin'! Video Studies of the Western

This new video essay examines the representation of the frontier in John Ford's Westerns. Ford's visual poetics illustrate Frederick Jackson Turner's conception of the frontier as "the meeting point between savagery and civilization." Ford's films, in this regard, allow us to explore seminal foundational concepts of America history and ideology. "John Ford's Vision of the West" was made according to principles of Fair Use (or Fair Dealing), primarily with scholarly, critical, and educational aims. It was published under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 Unported License. Read Matthias's written study of his video essay practice. Also see Film Studies For Free's earlier entry on the art (and ideology) of John Ford's films

The Western is one of the most iconographic of film genres and is thus particularly well suited to (audio)visual forms of analysis. So, today, Film Studies For Free has lassoed and corralled a whole herd of beefy video studies of film Westerns that abundantly testify to this advantage.

The group is led, above, by a new, wonderfully researched, video essay by the very talented Matthias Stork (author of the great, and widely circulated, Chaos Cinema video essays, along with others published here at FSFF). Thanks very much to him and all the other video essayists represented below for making their work publicly acessible. 

[It's Open Access week, so this here Open Access campaigning website particularly wants to show its warm appreciation to those of you who like to share the fruits of at least part of your film studies labour for free!]

And if you know of any other, freely accessible, video essays on Westerns that FSFF has missed please alert us to them by leaving a comment with the link below. Thanks!

An audiovisual study of Sergio Leone's distinctive duel aesthetic. The video essay was first published, along with an accompanying written essay, in the first issue of the online film journal FRAMES. "Moving Pieces - Sergio Leone's Duel" was made according to principles of Fair Use (or Fair Dealing), primarily with scholarly and critical aims, and was published under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 Unported License. Read Matthias's reflections on the above video here. And read Film Studies For Free's entry on the Spaghetti Western

A video essay exploring the ways in which editing techniques and other cinematic processes aid the construction of genre in the opening of "The Searchers" (John Ford, 1956).

Outlaw: Josey Wales by Matthew Cheney
A video essay looking at a few aspects of The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976) 

McCabe and Mrs. Miller: A Video Essay by Steven Santos
A video essay on Robert Altman's 1971 film McCabe and Mrs. Miller. See the original posting here

Critics' Picks: Rio Bravo from The New York Times
A. O. Scott basks in the pleasures of taking it easy with Howard Hawks's 1959 Western.
(Related Link)

Beaver's Lodge: CAIN'S CUTTHROATS from Press Play Video Blog
This is the fifth installment of BEAVER'S LODGE, a series of video essays narrated by actor Jim Beaver which will offer critical takes on some of Beaver's favorite films 

'A whole new world that is nothing but frontier...': Richard Langley in the narration to his excellent short film, embedded above, American Un-Frontiers: Universality and Apocalypse Blockbusters
This film concerns recent apocalyptic Hollywood blockbusters, which have utilised notions of the ‘frontier’ to develop ideas of American hegemony in the uni-polar era, even as they postulate a universal erasure of national boundaries. Largely, the non-human agents of apocalypse in such films are responsible for erasing boundaries, but in so doing they simultaneously establish the conditions of American renewal. Indeed, the frontier must be continually renewed; it is drawn in order to be effaced, redrawn and effaced again.

      However, at the moment of effacement, when the boundaries between nations are broken down and a sense of universality seems triumphant, the dawning of a new world re-inscribes the frontier - the new world that is constructed is still American led; the mooted universality is both particular and parochial. Such films, which appear to posit un-American (or at least post-national) frontiers, actually achieve the inverse; the universal equality offered by apocalypse offers an American un-frontier, a site seemingly without boundaries, but which is simultaneously nothing but frontier, a re-dramatisation of America’s founding mythology.


1 comment:

alsolikelife said...

Hi Catherine - saw this great collection of video essays on Westerns and your request for others.

I produced a two-parter with Matt Zoller Seitz (our first collaboration!) on Raoul Walsh's THEY DIED WITH THEIR BOOTS ON:
Part 1:
Part 2:

I analyzed a scene in Sam Peckinpah's PAT GARRET AND BILLY THE KID, both at normal and at half speed:
Half speed:

I also stumbled upon another video essay on the same scene, by Derek Dehart:

But I think the finest video essay on a Western remains Tag Gallagher's piece on STAGECOACH, "Dreaming of Jeannie". I've posted it on Vimeo with his permission: