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Unbridling the Western Film Auteur

Contemporary, Transnational and Intertextual Explorations

Edited By Emma Hamilton and Alistair Rolls

According to Jim Kitses (1969), the Western originally offered American directors a rich canvas to express a singular authorial vision of the American past and its significance. The Western’s recognizable conventions and symbols, rich filmic heritage, and connections to pulp fiction created a widely spoken «language» for self-expression and supplemented each filmmaker’s power to express their vision of American society. This volume seeks to re-examine the significance of auteur theory for the Western by analysing the auteur director «unbridled» by traditional definitions or national contexts.

This book renders a complex portrait of the Western auteur by considering the genre in a transnational context. It proposes that narrow views of auteurism should be reconsidered in favour of broader definitions that see meaning created, both intentionally and unintentionally, by a director; by other artistic contributors, including actors and the audience; or through the intersection with other theoretical concepts such as re-allegorization. In so doing, it illuminates the Western as a vehicle for expressing complex ideas of national and transnational identity.


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6. Narrative (Il)Logic and the Problem of Character Motivation in Sergio Corbucci’s Revenge Westerns (Marek Paryz)


Marek Paryz 6 Narrative (Il)Logic and the Problem of Character Motivation in Sergio Corbucci’s Revenge Westerns Abstract This chapter examines Sergio Corbucci’s ways of problematizing the issue of character motivation in his selected films that employ revenge plots. It would seem that the use of a revenge plot should enable a re-establishment of more traditional archetypal roles and patterns of action characteristic of the Western genre by providing an unequivocal and morally justified explanation of the hero’s motives. However, Corbucci uses revenge plots in such a way as to bring out an essential lack of logic behind heroic attitudes. This aspect of his work has been discussed in the example of Corbucci’s three major films: Django, Navajo Joe and The Great Silence. In Django and Navajo Joe, the plots actually conceal the personal reasons why the protagonists have become involved in specific situa- tions, and the revelations of their true motives come belatedly and trigger off retrospective reassessments, which leave the viewer wondering as to the real significance of the films’ revisionist solutions. In the case of The Great Silence, in turn, we can talk about a sort of doubling of the revenge plot, which shows a collision of different kinds of strongly emotional motivation. Corbucci, whose directorial style has been characterized by critics as ‘erratic’ (Hughes 2004: 64) and ‘undisciplined’ (Frayling 1981: 236 and 237), is notorious for his preference for drastic depictions of violence; as Howard Hughes emphatically put it, ‘Corbucci painted his name in spaghetti- western...

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