3-10 to Yuma

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This morning, my PA (knowing my love of Westerns) told me that a `new' Western is about to come out, starring Russell Crowe (is that how you spell it?) and some guy of whom I have never heard.  The title?  3-10 to Yuma.  3-10 TO YUMA!!!!!!!   I almost choked -- this was, of course, a classic Western of the very highest calibre, starring movie legends Van Heflin and Glenn Ford.  As staggered to my chair, and loosened my collar to get some air, three thoughts shot through my stunned mind:

1. What next?  A remake of Gone with the Wind, starring Justin Timberlake and Lindsay Lohan?  Or The Seventh Seal with Hulk Hogan and Ben Stiller? Or Point Blank with Cheech Marin?

2. Is this not one moe sign of the poverty of imagination in Hollywood?  Come on, gents, either do something new or retire. 

3. Is the era of the `great Western' not impossible to recapture?  Today's society seems polarised between two aesthetics: the over-feminized, where nothing is right or wrong, but everything is either `hurtful' or `helpful;' and the mindlessly macho, where violence is meaning.  The great Western cannot survive the triumph of either; it cannot exist in a morally vacuous aesthetic world of taste -- compare the goofy macho stuff of the 1930s and the graphic violent material of the post-Wild Bunch Peckinpah (The Wild Bunch being, in  my view, the point where the absolute boundary on this is reached and finally crossed) with the `sensitivity' of Dances with Wolves.  Neither Billy the Kid nor Randy Rides Alone nor Dances with Wolves really pass muster as truly great.  A great Western needs violence but also needs redemption; public courage but also nagging, private self-doubt; needs notions of right and wrong, even as these exist in a complicated web and threaten to tear apart the individuals who seek to honour family, community and conscience.

A morality that is ultimately aesthetic will also kill the modern church.  Those more concerned with the categories of taste, whether they favour the feminine or the violent, whether they are on the `left' or the `right' realy have nothing to say, even though they seem to expend much time and energy saying it.  Remaking the gospel in such a context is like remaking a great Western -- throw all the money and big names into it you want, but it won't make it great. 

Crowe or Heflin?  No contest.

Posted September 4, 2007 @ 9:29 PM by Carl Trueman

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