Not too long ago (well, maybe a few decades), Westerns were the movies to see. There were actors such as Clint Eastwood and John Wayne, in films such as "The Good, The Bad and the Ugly" and "Stagecoach." Clint Eastwood once said, "We are like boxers, one never knows how much longer one has." While the film virtuoso may not have been talking about Westerns, no quote could be more relevant to the dying genre.
The genre was once the champion in the eyes of audiences, but now it seems to be on its final leg. It could make a comeback, but right now Westerns are few and far between. Honestly, how many people get excited when they see a movie trailer for the annual token Western?
According to Boxofficemojo.com, the last Western to gross more than $100 million was Eastwood's "Unforgiven," back in 1992. There are still some fans of Westerns: those who are fans of classic Westerns and go to see the newer ones to see how they stack up and new fans who have been sucked in by the hipper, more action-indulged Westerns.
One problem that Westerns could be facing in their fight against becoming obsolete is the fact that the West is no longer the mysterious and alluring location it once was. With advances in film technology, movies can take audiences to different planets and actually make it seem realistic.
Is the stoic, honest hero still appealing to audiences? Surely not when they can have a sarcastic, one-line dropping, conflicted anti-hero. Some Westerns, such as "The Good, the Bad, and The Ugly" have avoided these pitfalls. However, other classic Westerns are just plain outdated and irrelevant when viewed in the 21st century.
Today, the use of black and white hats to determine whether a character is moral or corrupt is useless when there is so much gray in between.
The Western is still alive but it is struggling. There is no doubt that Westerns have and always will inspire filmmakers, who will continue to use their themes, but whether these themes will be used in actual Westerns is a different story altogether.
In the last few years there have been very few traditional Westerns. Many of them have been mash-ups with other genres, creating supernatural Westerns, horror Westerns, martial arts Westerns, comedy Westerns and, yes, even space Westerns. So maybe this is how Westerns will live on for future generations.
But there are still some traditional Westerns being released, such as "True Grit," which is a remake, another way Westerns will live on: revamping classics to introduce them to an audience that would otherwise never see them. Maybe if the new viewers like the remakes enough, they will go back and watch the originals. And who knows, maybe they will like those Westerns so much that they will check out some other great Westerns, such as "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly," "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid," "Little Big Man" or "The Searchers." Or maybe they will just be remembered through the people that love them. Even if another Western is never released on the big screen again, their influence on modern cinema will always be apparent.
Alexander Randazzo is a junior at City Honors.