Westerns have been around since the dawn of cinema, with the silent film The Great Train Robbery in 1903 being the first of its kind. John Wayne made them famous in the late 1930s, and it remained as the most popular genre in Hollywood until the 1960s. There have been so many films over the years that the genre has been grouped into; a multitude of sub-categories which include spaghetti western, snow western, and weird western. It seemed as though the western was making a comeback about five years ago, after the success of Django Unchained and The Revenant, but it still remains a niche genre in the modern movie scene.
Quentin Tarantino is one of the directors who has tried to revive the western in recent times. He followed up Django in 2012 with The Hateful Eight in 2015, and both pictures were strong critical and commercial successes. The Revenant came out in the same year as Tarantino’s snow western and earned Alejandro G. Inarritu the Oscar for Best Director at the 88th Academy Awards.
The Coen brothers have also played their part in trying to bring the western to modern audiences, and have released a number of critically acclaimed films set on the American frontier over the years. Most recently, the Oscar-winning directorial duo released The Ballad of Buster Scruggs on Netflix. The movie has an approval rating of 91 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. In terms of Hollywood blockbusters, however, there have been few notable offerings in recent memory.
The western is still at the forefront in other sectors of the media though, with the setting used almost constantly in the gaming industry. One of the best offerings in recent times was Red Dead Redemption 2 from Rockstar Games, an epic open-world adventure released on consoles. In the iGaming industry, there are numerous western titles too, including Showdown Saloon and Dead or Alive. Players can view more games like these themed slot machines at Sky City online casino. For mobile, there are engaging titles like Wild West Race and Shoot and Run: Western.
Perhaps one of the reasons why the Western has fallen out of fashion in Hollywood and is no longer a go-to genre for the major publishing companies is that it is quite restrictive and leaves little room for innovation. Younger generations know less and less about those historical times, and can often only relate to movies that use a lot of technology. But if the world’s best filmmakers continue to make westerns and put their own spin on them, the genre could easily be kept alive, if not revived.
The way civilization spread out into the Wild West is comparable to how humans are now trying to get further out into space. By highlighting the similarities, filmmakers could maybe spark some interest from younger generations. As it stands, however, the western is going to continue to struggle to get back to its former glory of the 1960s.