Westerns sans Frontiers
Last week’s movie going had me in desperation going to see the Danish(?) Western, The Salvation. Pastries and animal porn I had heard of, but Westerns?. Standard stuff. Long separated wife arrives by train, very quickly she and her son both Danish beauties are killed. Husband also a Danish beauty gets revenge. But the killer is part of the dominant clan of bad guys. These have to be wiped out. For the collector one of the bad guys is played almost hilariously by ex footballer Eric Cantona. There is a beautiful woman whose tongue was cut out by Indians(only in Westerns!). She saves the hero and they ride off. So a Danish western is very similar to other Westerns but with better cheek bones and some sub titles..(see trailer link)
But what if other countries made Westerns. Spaghetti we know. How about a Portuguese Western? Here a lovely family sit down for a Thanksgiving meal. The little girl asks to be excused. We see her going to the outside privy. She doesn’t return. We see a cloud of dust and the hint of an Indian war party. Enter hopeless local sheriff. He falls in love with the grieving mother. She turns him down. He accuses her of abducting her own daughter. How does this end? It doesn’t.
A French Western might go like this. All powerful ranch owner treats his younger wife badly. She takes riding lessons from a half caste who works in the local town’s livery stable. He is full of the wisdom of the prairies. “Before the iron horse the bison was our friend. When we see the eagle we are closer to God.” That kind of thing.
The lady falls, who wouldn’t. There is a love affair. The all powerful ranch owner runs the half caste out of town. The lady follows him and they set up an idyllic home in the Rockies. They have two children, one is a homosexual(played by Cantona). The rancher finds them falls in love with Cantona. Its complicated. Alors,c’est la vie.
The German Western. Claus von Prussia is building the railway. He comes across a small tribe of ecologically perfect Indians. They object to his railway. He wipes them out. Making sure that all evidence of the massacre is destroyed. But one small child escapes and is taken in by a childless family. The man of this family is played by Henry Fonda.Fast forward twenty years and the child becomes Gary Cooper and sheriff . Claus von Prussia is now a banker in St Louis. Gary Cooper travels to St Louis. He tracks down the von Prussia. Receptionist says I’ll see if he is in. Cooper says I’m not taking that for answer. Gary Cooper enters the banker’s office. Von Prussia slumps forward head in hands and says,” I know who you are. I’ve been waiting for you”. Ich bin Berliner.