The Western genre remains an oddity. It has fallen a little from grace since its heyday during the golden age of movies. Then again, back then it was all about Great White Men and the Savage Indians disgruntled over the new occupying settlers or Great White Men chasing down Scurvy America-Hating Bandits.
There were exceptions, like Sergio Leone’s legendary Man With No Name trilogy, but that was distinctly not a Hollywood genre piece. Since then the Western has been stuck in a politically incorrect funk, one that probably won’t change permanently until someone has the guts to film Blood Meridian.
But the genre has redeemed itself here and there, most recently the fantastic adaptation of True Grit, The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada, Django Unchained and of course the spitfire cussing and eye-gouging that was Deadwood. It is safe to say that the Western of today is not what came before, which is why news of a new Magnificent Seven is very welcome.
The film is another famous adaptation of an Akira Kurosawa movie (The Seven Samurai) and like True Grit a big name in the genre – but also of its time, being more ‘knight on steed’ than ‘antihero with a gun’. So a new version would be interesting. Deadline reports that MGM is talking to Denzel Washington and Antoine Fuqua to respectively star in and direct a new version. The idea has been bouncing around for some time, once with Tom Cruise’s name attached, and a script was written by Nic Pizzolatto (True Detective) and John Lee Hancock (Snow White and the Huntsman).
It is still early days for this – nobody has confirmed anything. Yet Deadline is right in pointing out Washington and Faqua work well together and that if they sign on, finding six more gunslingers won’t be hard. But it is a tricky proposition: the original film had several major stars like Yul Brynner, Steve McQueen and Charles Bronson. This convergence of egos is one reason why the 1960 version held up so well. If MGM wants to avoid yet another pointless remake, it should take care that the right chemistry is on-screen.
For example, Colin Farrell would not be a bad choice for McQueen’s role and I’d pay money to see Jeff Bridges back in the saddle, though perhaps as a bad guy this time…
Last Updated: June 10, 2014