This essay will compare and contrast two films that sit within the broad genre of 'the western',
made 28 years apart, featuring actor/director Clint Eastwood as protagonist. These two films
are Sergio Leone's A Fistful of Dollars (1964) and Eastwood's own Unforgiven (1992).
Beyond the narrative comparisons of the two films, this essay will concentrate on auteurship,
but will also examine how gender is depicted, with a particular view to how women are
depicted in each film; and the intended audience of these films, looking at how the audience
for Eastwood's work is shared with Leone's, and how both films were groundbreaking for the
film-going public at the time of their release.
Defining The Western Genre:
Firstly, it is important to understand why both A Fistful of Dollars and Unforgiven are
considered western films. We can determine this by examining the narrative and setting of
each, and placing them within the wider context of the western genre. To do this, we need to
have an understanding of the common themes or 'tropes' that exist within the genre – a genre
that has a rich history and has, since it's inception, seen many sub genres 'spin off' from the
traditional western (Lecture Notes, 2011: 113-121). However, at its core, the western tells a
story that is unique to American history (Kitses, 1969: 8) and in many ways is a 'selfcontained'
genre with a limited number of narratives and themes (Lecture Notes, 2011: 102).
The western, more often than not, tells the story of American frontier life, or more specifically,
1865-1890 American frontier life; a time when society was still in its infancy and the civil war
was gradually coming to an end (Kitses, 1969: 8). Perhaps it was best summed up by
American hunter Buffalo Bill Cody, who said of his life in the west, “I stood between savagery
and civilisation most all my early days.” This is a concept that is revisited by many western
film scholars, this struggling opposition... [continues]
Cite This Essay
(2011, 10). From San Miguel to Big Whiskey: a Comparative Look at 'a Fistful of Dollars' and 'Unforgiven'. StudyMode.com. Retrieved 10, 2011, from http://www.studymode.com/essays/From-San-Miguel-To-Big-Whiskey-803454.html
"From San Miguel to Big Whiskey: a Comparative Look at 'a Fistful of Dollars' and 'Unforgiven'" StudyMode.com. 10 2011. 10 2011 <http://www.studymode.com/essays/From-San-Miguel-To-Big-Whiskey-803454.html>.
"From San Miguel to Big Whiskey: a Comparative Look at 'a Fistful of Dollars' and 'Unforgiven'." StudyMode.com. 10, 2011. Accessed 10, 2011. http://www.studymode.com/essays/From-San-Miguel-To-Big-Whiskey-803454.html.