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Wagon train. ‘Cinema is the especially epic art,’ wrote Andre Bazin in a well-known essay on American film, and ‘the migration to the West is our Odyssey.‘ Epic, yes Odyssey, no. That there is no return is the founding act of the genre. Residence is a vague hope, distant in space and in time for now, all there is is a wagon two or 3 generations, with each other, surrounded by hundreds of other households all distinct, and all top specifically the similar life. Life in the open, on unsteadily undulating stoops, below everybody’s eyes mainly because what matters, in these films, is not the private sphere of the person loved ones — we under no circumstances see the inside of a wagon, and the intimacy of a sentimental conversation, or of a very good wash, are normally met with rough collective humor — but the amalgamation of everyone into a neighborhood. Into a nation. ‘Gathered from the North, the South and the East, they assemble on the bank of the Mississippi for the conquest of the West,’ announces the opening of The Large Trail (1930). Conquest: the tempo remains slow, but it has turn out to be unyielding. The eyes of the American individuals, wrote Tocqueville at the onset of the good migration, ‘are fixed upon [their] personal march across these wilds, draining swamps, turning the course of rivers, peopling solitudes, and subduing nature’ they ‘enjoy dreaming about what will be.’ Dreaming . . . But this is extra like an obsession. The march of the wagon train can under no circumstances quit: a hasty prayer, and the dead are buried and left forever behind a kid is born, and hours later is currently on the move. Each day life is each implacably every day — often brewing coffee, often mending socks and washing their only passable shirt — and frightfully unpredictable: a danger that comes significantly less from human enemies (while the conflict with ‘Indians’ is present in most films of migration), than from the hostility of nature: it really is often as well hot, as well cold, as well dry, as well windy . . . rain, dust, snow, mountains, rapids . . . So considerably friction, in these films, not a journey in which a wagon does not get stuck in the mid not a scene in which they go downhill, for a alter. Seldom do fictional characters perform as challenging as in early Westerns: maintaining the animals with each other, cutting down trees, crossing rivers, digging passages, overcoming crazy obstacles. Right after all this, they deserve the West. They have been a stubborn, single-minded human herd which is the cause Red River, with its supremely unpromising storyline (moving ten thousand cows from Texas to Missouri, consider that), is the greatest of all epic Westerns. These cattle are the settlers: and in the film’s terrifying stampede, brought on by a man who desires to consume sugar in the middle of the evening, the destructive possible of the good migration erupts for a moment, earthquake-like, into the open.”


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