The reasons usually given for the death or dearth of westerns is that the genre deals in stark old allegories of good and evil and we are all moral sophisticates now who know the world isn’t like that. If this is our explanation, we don’t have an explanation at all. The world is more infested with allegories of good and evil than at any time since the last crusade, and that wasn’t what the genre was ever about anyway. Westerns are about the law, its absence, abeyance or arrival, and about what forms of behaviour are possible without it or outside it: what chances of decency, justice and self-respect; what varieties of licence, too.
The simultaneous release of a DVD version of Delmer Daves’s classic 3.10 to Yuma (1957) and James Mangold’s remake of the same film – there is even a trailer for the new movie among the special features of the DVD of the old one – makes you wonder whether Hollywood is dedicating itself to pure nostalgia or pure denial. Is the past all we have, or is it so dead we can repeat it as if it never happened?
more from the LRB here.