Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Outland :)

In Outland (1981) a police marshall is stationed on a remote mining colony in outer space.  He runs into a basket full of crimes and is told to simply ignore them by the head of the space station. After uncovering a huge conspiracy in the stations mining system he is put in major danger when all he wishes to do is to solve the crime and go home. In High Noon (1952) Kane, aslo marshall also must face a dangerous enemy in the west and he finds himself alone when his town refuses to help him.
    It has been said that Outland is basically High Noon in space and many of the key elements of a western show up in this space film making it a qualifiable space-western. In Outland the protagonist William O'Neil,  has a rock solid determination and mind set that he cannot abandon this station like so many marshalls in the past have. He has to solve the case, it is his top priority, even above joining his family on Earth.  This is very similar to many westerns heros such as Josey Wales from The Outlaw Josey Wales who is driven to complete his task of delivering justice where it is due. Both Josey and The Marshall are focused completely on their goals and refuse to be deterred by the large forces against them.
    The settings of the two films are also very similar. Although one takes place on Jupiters moon Io and the other in New Mexico Territory both of the towns draw similar parallels. The station and the town are both places trapping the characters. The conditions of both, grueling and hazardous make it hard to live there and that's without the numerous men going crazy. Another little thing that both protagonists have to deal with is their wives threatening to leave them. Although The Marshalls wife leaves him quite early in the story and Kanes wife doesn't end up doing it, both must face the enemy alone. When it comes down to it Kane must face the Miller Gang basically by himself and Marshall O'Neil has to face the hitman that are after him with only the Doctors help.
    In most Sci-Fi's the space ship is used as a symbol of exploration and outward expansion, it can be compared to the symbol of the train tracks in many westerns.   Outland  handles the symbol of the space ship as a sort of cage, something keeping O'Neil in a dangerous place. He is trapped with no way out to escape from the hitman. The spaceship is presented negatively and the whole film really focuses on the claustrophobic feeling of it. In many scenes it is crowded with many people shoved in a tight space. The hallways are narrow and enforces the quality of being trapped on this spaceship.
    Tension is a major part in both science fiction films and westerns. In Outland one of the most agressive ways tension is built is by the countdown clock. The countdown clock ticks away the time until the next space shuttle arrives in which O'Neils hit men are boarded. Many times we are brought back to this clock in the final moments of the film, increasing the tension until the climax of the story begins when the shuttle arrives early.
     Outland although usually is presented as a Sci-Fi is truly a western in all sense of the word. With the determined hero, the crazy run down town, and ever present enemy Outland is a complete Space-Western.

Monday, February 18, 2013

The Western: Josey Wales and Ethan Edwards

    Clint Eastwood's The Outlaw Josey Wales and John Ford's The Searchers are both established western films with seemingly similar plots. In Robert Sickles article "Clint Eastwood's: The Outlaw Josey Wales" both films are compared and it is revealed that they contain many elements that are similar to each other. He suggests that each are respectively different, complimenting the time periods they were made in. Each fim corresponds with the cultural beliefs that were present in each different time.
     In The Outlaw Josey Wales, the protagonist, Josey Wales is a grief ridden, relatable hero who is chased for many years by the Union officer who murdered his family. In The Searchers Ethan Edwards  is a hero who embarks on a journey to save his two nieces from a tribe of indians.  Both of these protagonist's were compared in the article, and it is obvious that the two have a sort of connection. They are both examples of  classic western heros, complete with the varying side-kicks and gung-ho attitude. Both of the characters start their respective films in similar circumstances, their families being murdered and then they are off on separate paths. Ethan, driven by racism towards American- Indians and Josey being chased by the very murderers of his family, the similarities between the two stop.

"Although both films employ murder/revenge motifs that lead to an extended chase that forms the bulk of the narrative, there is an important difference in perspective. Ethan is the monomaniacal, hate-filled pursuer whereas Josey is the one pursed by an irrationally deranged man" (222, Sickles)

The contrast between the characters, although in similar circumstances, cannot be ignored. I agree with Sickles evidence in this article because it includes many components of each movie, comparing them with each other. Although it seems his article is slightly bais, in favor of Josey Wales I believe that most of his arguments are both intriguing and valid.

     In The Searchers the comedic elements seemed very few and far between. One of the most long lasting ones was the American-Indian that Ethan and his sidekick Martin picked up on the way. They managed to do an exchange that was slightly humorous but confusing over trading a woman for a hat. She offers some lightness to the dark situation but is treated horribly by Ethan and Martin. Martin kicks her down a hill, after she is only trying to help them and then she is shortly after is found killed. In The Outlaw Josey Wales many comedic elements are present, such as he "civilized indian", the Missouri hating grandma and even Josey himself,  that dapple this heavy situation with humorous moments.