Young Guns: Analysis of Billy the Kid

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  • Topic: Billy the Kid, Young Guns, Lincoln County War
  • Pages : 3 (989 words )
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  • Published : November 23, 2012
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In the 1988 movie Young Guns we will analyze William H. Bonney, better known as Billy the Kid (Emilio Estevez) as the outlaw hero, and Patrick Floyd Garrett (Patrick Wayne) as the official hero. This movie was closely based on real life events of the Lincoln County war of 1877-1878, but because the real life events weren’t nearly as controversial and exciting, the movie was minimally changed in various ways to make it more appealing to audiences. The movie starts out with a group of wayward young men in Lincoln County New Mexico, supply shopping for their benefactor, London native John Tunstall (Terence Stamp). Tunstall owns and operates a cattle ranch and mercantile, and this puts him in direct competition with local rancher and mercantile/bank owner and all around bad guy, Lawrence Murphy (Jack Palance). After hearing a mysterious gunshot, we see a young Billy running through the storefronts, chased by several of Murphy’s men. He jumps into a cattle arena and hides among the livestock. Tunstall then comes to his rescue, pulling Billy from the cattle arena and whisking him off to the ranch. It becomes apparent very early on that the portrayal of a young, volatile, and sometimes ignorant Billy is a key trait: He laughs and giggles quite a bit and bumbles around foolishly, seemingly to show his youthful playfulness, while also seeming to seek the approval of elder men like John Tunstall and Pat Garrett. He obviously craves the attention of a father figure and that lends credence to the youthful exuberance that makes Billy “the Kid”. The characterization immediately begins following the model of the traditional outlaw hero-official hero dichotomy, according to Ray, when he wrote that one of the competing values associated with the outlaw hero-official hero opposition is aging: “the attractiveness of the outlaw hero’s childishness and propensity to whims, tantrums, and emotional decisions derived from America’s cult of childhood.” This much is shown in the very...
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