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Summary Of Beyond Formula: American Film Genres

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kidlucky@eartlink.net

English 1

January 28, 2005

Summary Of Beyond Formula: American Film Genres

The passage taken from the book, "Beyond Formula: American Film Genres" by Stanley Solomon, focuses specifically on Western films. Solomon suggests that, "the Western is primarily a genre of location," (56) which not only suggests the plot of the movie but the characters portrayed in the film as well. If the location is based in a harsh or rugged environment, the viewers automatically assume that the characters in the film will be just as rugged or even unlawful. If location of the film takes place in a small country town the viewer knows that this usually means that that the town is under-populated and industrially inept. The viewer also knows that some sort of trial will present itself to the towns people, typically a group of out-laws, and the citizens of the town will have to muster up what courage they have and stand up to their rivals. In this case the towns people usually are unable to overcome their opponents causing them to rally around a strong spirited leader to lead them to victory.

The location, according to Solomon, of Western films gives a direct view of moral values that both the hero of the story and the villain understand. If these values are broken both the hero and villain knows the consequence of their cowardly deed. Location also adds to the film by giving the characters another source of danger than the villains, causing them to be aware the their surroundings in order to survive. Solomon states that, "the location further determines the moral perspective by inviting sudden violence and the accompanying necessity of perpetual violence" (57).

When the hero or villain arrives in the film, the location makes the viewer aware of the characters past, arousing a curiosity about the character and where he came from. "The arrival of the hero or villain in the Western setting," Solomon states, "immediately prompts discussion..." (58). According to Solomon, when the hero or villain shows up in the movie it is to be assumed that he has experienced life, and at the peak of his career, he has reached a critical point where he is now faced with a crisis that must be rectified.

Location, characterization and the characters history are the key elements to the Western film genre. According to Stanly Solomon, location is either a simple town, (or settlement) or the wilderness, and both types of locations involve countless attempts to overcome hardships. However the environment that surrounds the characters hardly ever posses any real threat to them. Solomon suggests that because the main element in such a rugged location is the human ability to survive, the final showdown between good and evil, hero and villain, is another element of the human struggle to incorporate civilization into the wilderness. Therefore, the ability to survive must be evident in the hero's life.

Finally, Solomon suggests that in western films the possibilities are generally cut and dry given the location of where the film takes place.

Works Cited

Salomon, Stanly. "Beyond Formula: American Film Genres." A Sequence for Academic Writing. Ed. Laurance Behrens, Leonard J Rosen, Bonnie Beedles. New York: Pearson Longman, 2005. 56-60

Garry McGlinchy

kidlucky@eartlink.com

English 1

January 28, 2005

Professor Greenstein

Draft 2 Summary Of Beyond Formula: American Film Genres

The passage taken from the book, "Beyond Formula: American Film Genres" by Stanley Salomon, focuses specifically on Western films. Salomon suggests that Western movies are primarily centered on location that not only suggests the plot of the movie but the characters portrayed in the film as well. If the location is based in a harsh or rugged environment, the viewers automatically assume that the characters in the film will be just as rugged or even unlawful. If location of the film takes place in a small country town the viewer knows that this usually means that that the town is under-populated and industrially inept. The viewer also knows that some sort of trial will present itself to the towns people, typically a group of out-laws, and the citizens of the town will have to muster up what courage they have and stand up to their rivals. In this case the towns people usually are unable to overcome their opponents causing them to rally around a strong spirited leader to lead them to victory.

The location, according to Salomon, of Western films gives a direct view of moral values that both the hero of the story and the villain understand. If these values are broken both the hero and villain knows the consequence of their cowardly deed. Location also adds to the film by giving the characters another source of danger than the villains, causing them to be aware the their surroundings in order to survive.

When the hero or villain arrives in the film, the location makes the viewer aware of the characters past, arousing a curiosity about the character and where he came from. Usually the viewer gets a small hint about why the lonely character rode into town. Salomon goes on to say that when the hero or villain shows up in the movie it is to be assumed that he has experienced life, and at the peak of his career, he has reached a critical point where he is now faced with a crisis that must

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