Unbridling the Western Film Auteur: Contemporary, Transnational and Intertextual Explorations. Edited by Emma Hamilton and Alistair Rolls (Oxford: Peter Lang, 2018).
“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.”
Chapters by three members of the International Scholars of the Western Network (the volume’s co-editor Emma Hamilton, Marek Paryż and Lee Broughton) are included in this new edited collection. Emma’s chapter ‘”Probably a White Fella”: Rolf de Heer, The Tracker and the Limits of Auteurism’ employs de Heer’s Australian Western The Tracker (2002) to explore the representation of Indigenous Australians in Antipodean genre films. Marek’s chapter ‘Narrative (Il)Logic and the Problem of Character Motivation in Sergio Corbucci’s Revenge Westerns’ analyzes the ways in which Corbucci’s vengeful characters tend to depart from the conventional versions of the revenge plots that are typically found in Westerns. Lee’s chapter ‘Adaptation, Transculturation and the Western Auteur: Louis L’Amour, Peter Collinson and The Man Called Noon’ provides a critical reading of the changes that were made to L’Amour’s Western novel The Man Called Noon (1970) when it was made into a film in 1973. Lee argues that the nature of these changes serve to grant the “transnational” film version a hitherto unrecognized sense of national identity by linking its narrative themes and aesthetic qualities to those that are also found in earlier British-made Westerns.