The Searchers Conventions

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The term genre is often associated with the phrase; a set of expectations (components) relating to a topic or theme. It can be argued that the Western genre was by far the most popular genre in classic Hollywood cinema as ‘one survey suggests that between 1926 and 1967, Westerns comprised a quarter of all Hollywood’s output’. The popularity and growth of the Western genre allowed audiences over time to generate a set of expectations, which may include: iconography of the West including guns and horses, a linear plot, binary opposition (Indians Vs Americans, Good Vs Evil, Savagery Vs Civilisation and Individual Vs Community) and specific characters (the hero/protagonist, the villain/antagonist, the damsel in distress and the town-drunk). In…show more content…
The Binary Oppositions associated with Westerns often drive the plot and thus affect the structure of the plot. The Searchers mainly follows two typical Western binary oppositions which are the Savagery Vs Civilisation and Native Indians Vs the Americans. A typical Western is often associated with having a plot structure following the classical paradigm. The opening of The Searchers is the expected exposition, the protagonist Ethan arrives at home after what appears to have been a long time. This is vital to the plot structure as it gives the spectator a brief understanding to the background of Ethan’s family. The mise-en-scene also contributes to conventions of the Western genre in the opening of The Searchers. Firstly, the credits (00:00:00 – 00:01:26, figure 1) appear on the screen in font that is seen in many Western films, similar to the font ‘Bernard MT…show more content…
This demonstrates how the plot structure is linked to the binary oppositions. The Native Indians attacking the Americans is a narrative trope of Western movies. This inciting incident then triggers the rising action of the movie which is Ethan’s quest to rescue them. This places The Searchers into ‘the rescue story’ category of the Western genre. The Native Indian man here (figure 3) is dressed in conventional Native Indian costume, such as the face paint and a feathered headdress. The costumes of the American cowboys and the Native Indians contrast which mirrors the binary opposition of Savagery Vs Civilisation. This is because the Native Indians appear like warriors (face paint) in comparison to the ordinary appearance of the civilised

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