The Western is long past its heyday. It was one of the most popular film and television genres for years as the world wanted to experience the thrill of squaring off against a bandit, rustling cattle and just living in a world where there was black and white, rarely a middle grey. It was a world all of its own and countless movies followed the legends of gunslingers for years.
Yet, over time, those legends stopped capturing audiences the way they once had and the presence of the iconic American Wild West slowly faded into the distance.
Until very recently, anyways. While there have been a few fits and starts and remakes (3:10 to Yuma, Magnificent 7, True Grit all remakes), lately it seems that there has bee a resurgence by some unknown force. Whether it's just the groundswell popularity of HBO's Westworld, or some unearthed desire for the Western's unknown frontiers, it's still a welcome resurgence.
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This Is How The West Was Won
No matter what generation you come from, there's still something magical in a sense to how the #wildwest is seen. Whether it's in rerun of the classic '50s and '60s old west films like The Wild Bunch, High Noon, or Once Upon a Time in the West with Yul Brynner, Clint Eastwood, or Steve McQueen. Perhaps you're closer to my generation and remember the early '90s mini revival Westerns like Unforgiven, Tombstone, or The Quick and the Dead with Gene Hackman, Val Kilmer, or Kevin Costner.
Maybe movies never really met your entertainment needs, and you've been more of a television watcher. Since the mid '50s shows about the wild west have been a part of modern television with shows like Bonanza, Gunsmoke and Rawhide in the '50s and '60s. Those led into shows like Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman and Little House on the Prairie in the '80s and '90s before giving way to shows like Hell on Wheels, Longmire, Deadwood and even Justified at the turn of the century.
Still not your cup of tea? Well how about the video game revival? Wild West video games date all the way back to the longest running game franchise, The Oregon Trail. Over the last few years we've seen countless games arrive like Red Dead Redemption, Call of Juarez, Gun and the rumored Far Cry 5.
No matter what your preferred form of entertainment may be, there has been a steady influx of the wild west, but it hasn't really been since Westworld popped up on HBO that audiences are starting to think again about where we could see the genre take us.
So, What's Next?
That's the hard thing to quantify, considering how much the genre has fluctuated over the years. But there are tea leaves to be read in the sudden success of Westworld, the teased Red Dead Redemption 2, the mounting Western rumors of both Far Cry 5 and Assassin's Creed Origins.
It's not uncommon for industries to all catch the same wind for certain genres. In the early '00s we saw apocalypse narratives trending, we're entering the (arguably) tail end of the zombie craze, and the late '80s were obsessed with gangsters.
If we take into account the direction that the gaming industry seems to be steering, and factor in the undeniable reception of Westworld, it's easy to see the Wild West becoming the new zombie.
Are you looking for more of the Wild West?