The Western genre reflects one of the briefest periods of American history — spanning the years during/between the Civil War until the turn of the century, just 35-40 years in total. And yet, there are more films categorized as Westerns than in any other genre, by a country mile. Unfortunately, Westerns have fallen on hard times in recent decades, in large part because it seems like every story, trope, character, and setting has been run face-first into the ground.
However, once in a while a Western comes along that backhands the industry — Dances With Wolves, Unforgiven, True Grit, and The Revenant. These epic films tilted the playing board, blurring genre conventions of black and white (hats) into shades of gray. Quentin Tarantino’s two takes on the genre — Django Unchained and The Hateful Eight — took us down avenues and explored angles we simply haven’t seen before — this is how the genre returns to form!
And now the legendary filmmaker Steven Soderbegh takes his shot with Godless, a Netflix anthology series that’s short on stars (sorry Jeff Daniels), but long on style. Godless depicts a town where all the men have perished in a mine accident, leaving the women to run the show. As the trailer depicts, this is no haven for the wicked — these ladies can shoot, and they’re none to shy about it.
This first trailer suggests that Netflix is not taking a gentle view of the Old West, quite the contrary, there’s plenty of death on display — by way of revolver, repeater, and the occasional knife (or was that an axe, I can’t tell but it looked painful). Soderbergh is crafting something distinctly Soderbergh, and it looks amazing. The cinematography captures some incredible scenery, but the camerawork conveying the show’s gunplay that’s the real star here — Godless is a Western with a sense of flair and style.
Netflix has plans for 80 original films and a dozen new series in 2018. If Godless represents an example of what’s to come, it’s going to be a helluva a year — look out Hollywood, Netflix is about to eat your lunch (well, the mid and indie budgeted lunches, that is).
Can Soderbergh revive the fading Western genre? Let us know in the comments down below!
Godless hits Netflix on November 22, 2017.
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