Western (genre)

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The Western is a genre of art that may be found in film, television, radio, literature, painting and other visual arts. Westerns are devoted to telling stories set primarily in the latter half of the 19th century in the American Old West. Some Westerns are set as early as the Battle of the Alamo in 1836 but most are set between the end of the American Civil War (1865) and the massacre at Wounded Knee in 1890. There are also a number of films about Western-type characters in contemporary settings, such as Junior Bonner set in the 1970s and The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada in the 21st century.

Westerns often portray how primitive and obsolete ways of life confronted modern technological or social changes. This may be depicted by showing conflict between natives and settlers or U.S. Cavalry or between cattle ranchers and farmers ("sodbusters"), or by showing ranchers being threatened by the onset of the Industrial Revolution. American Westerns of the 1940s and 1950s emphasize the values of honor and sacrifice.[citation needed] Westerns from the 1960s and 1970s often have a more pessimistic view, glorifying a rebellious anti-hero and highlighting the cynicism, brutality and inequality of the American West. Despite being tightly associated with a specific time and place in American history, these themes have allowed Westerns to be produced and enjoyed across the world.

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Themes

The Western genre sometimes portrays the conquest of the wilderness and the subordination of nature in the name of civilization or the confiscation of the territorial rights of the original inhabitants of the frontier.[1] The Western depicts a society organized around codes of honor and personal, direct or private justice (such as the feud[2]), rather than any rationalistic, abstract law, in which persons have no social order larger than their immediate peers, family, or perhaps themselves alone. The popular perception of the Western is a story that centers on the life of a semi-nomadic wanderer, usually a cowboy or a gunfighter.[1]

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