How many of the elements in The Searchers are conventions of the genre? What variations does The Searchers put on them?
Genre The Western
Genre: The Western
GenreA category of film, such as the western, thehorror film, the costume drama, themelodrama, and so on, with recognizableconventions and character types.
Semantic Approach Syntactic ApproachFocus on similarities Focus on change and development overFixed meanings, what timeremains constant Variable relationships between structuredBuilding blocks of the elementsgenre
Semantic Approach Syntactic ApproachThe Western is a film The Western is awhose action, genre that resultssituated in the from severalAmerican West, is overlapping thematicconsistent with the clashes: the West asatmosphere , the desert vs. the West asvalues, and theconditions of garden; nature vs.existence in the Far culture; the individualWest between 1840 vs. community.and 1900.
Semantic Approach Syntactic ApproachThe Western hero is How do variations intypically a nomadic the Western heromale loner who represent changingcomes to town, images of masculinitypurges it of its savage and changing attitudesor criminal elements, toward the history ofand leaves. He is Western settlement?often motivated byrevenge and/or asense of justice.
Conventions (Semantic Elements)o Settingso Character Typeso Costumes and Propso Plots/Situationso Conflictso Cinematic elements: cinematography, mise-en- scene
Overlapping Thematic Clashes (Syntactic Relationships)The West as The West asas garden vs. as desertCulture NatureCommunity Individual
The Western as Myth“ . . . in The Searchers (dir. John Ford, 1956)there is a direct confrontation with the fact thatthe origin of the territorial U.S. rested on avirulent racism and genocidal war againstaboriginal peoples, a war that would not havebeen possible and perhaps would not have beenwon without the racist hatred of characters likethe John Wayne character.”- Robert B. Pippin, “What Is a Western? Politics and Self-Knowledge inJohn Ford’s The Searchers,” Critical Inquiry 35.2 (2009)