Sunday, August 28, 2011

Shane and Cowboys & Aliens

It is nearly impossible to say just how much of Shane was taken to make up Cowboys & Aliens since both films make so much use of the same basic elements of the western.
Geography of Shane is much more limited since nearly all of the action takes place within view of the town, where as Cowboys & Aliens provides us with a wider range.
The cattle baron as the dark character may possibly be attributed to Shane, but modified to become one of the heroes.
In Shane, farmer and cattleman represent two great ways of life clashing. In this film, the cattle baron – the former military man – dominates a town that was once thought to be a mining town. While he and his son lord over the locals, it is not with the same clash of cultures.
Three elements are likely taken from Shane, however, the funeral scene, the Jake riding off into the blue horizon, and, of course, the dog.
In both films, the funeral becomes hugely symbolic in the need to pay respects to the dead. While in Shane, it becomes the focus of resistance, much in the way Irish funerals did in the feud against British oppression, in Cowboys & Aliens, the scene is used to continue the duality of mortal and immortal life that makes up the continuing religious theme.
The dog in this film looks very much like the dog that plays an important role in Shane, one of the beasts which lends realism to the western scene, and provides a kind of witness to the events. The dog plays a similar role in this film.
And, of course, the ride off at the end of both films is nearly identical. Strangely enough, it has a similar meaning. In Shane, the hero cannot escape his past as a violent gunfighter, telling the boy that it is impossible to live in peace with the killing he needed to do. We get a similar allusion in Cowboys & Aliens. In both films, the hero is denied the woman he loves. In Shane, he leaves because the woman he loves is married to another man, in Cowboys & Aliens, the woman he loves is dead.

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