Westerns were once the driving force and defining standard in Hollywood (film and TV) — Edwin Porter’s The Great Train Robbery (1903) is considered the world’s first narrative film. At their peak, in the 1950s, more Westerns were made than all the other genres combined. However, Westerns declined through the 60s and 70s, partly because their tropes and plots were so beaten into the ground that audiences tired of the cliches and the formulaic storytelling.
Yet, many still hunger for the subject-matter. AMC’s Hell on Wheels wrapped a successful five-year run, Rockstar’s Red Dead Redemption video game is on many gamer’s all-time lists (and a highly-anticipated sequel is in the works), the Coen Brothers’ True Grit (2010) certainly jolted the genre back to life, at least momentarily. Consequently, if Westerns are ever to return to form, it’s probably going to take a visionary creator, someone who can show us something we’ve never seen before in a genre that’s seen and done it all.
Along comes Netflix and Steven Soderbergh, who debut the first teaser for their epic collaboration, a Western anthology series called: Godless. In the category of showing us stuff we’ve never seen before this teaser provides: an infant playing with rattlesnake, a locomotive derailing in the desert, and epic purple thunderstorms (OK, we’ve seen weather before, but this is Soderbergh rain!).
The teaser is all images and mood, but the synopsis promises outlaws, revenge, ranches, and a pursuit across the southwest — granted, nothing particularly novel here, but any film geek knows that a Soderbergh film is anything but rote or traditional. The cinematography and camerawork alone in this teaser promises something different, and apparently quite emotionally-charged too.
Check out the synopsis for Godless below:
“Godless is a seven-part Netflix limited series from Steven Soderbergh and Scott Frank, written and directed by Scott Frank, starring Jack O’Connell, Michelle Dockery, and Jeff Daniels. Frank Griffin, an outlaw terrorizing the 1880s American West, hunts down Roy Goode, his partner turned enemy. Roy hides out at a ranch as Frank’s chase leads him to La Belle, New Mexico — a town mysteriously made up entirely of women.”
Can Steven Soderberg convince audiences that Westerns are still cool? Let us know in the comments down below!
Godless hits Netflix on November 22, 2017.
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