The outlaw Josey Wales and the frontier myth of development
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The cultural genre of the American western has developed through the myth/ideology of white European migration east to west across the American continent. This myth system is grounded in the archetypes of the Garden and Deliverance. Ideological revisions, most notably those associated with the emergence of the United States as a major industrial nation in the latter half of the 19th century, have been absorbed into western cultural products in the 20th century and the western film genre in particular. Western films that are considered both classic to the genre, and revisions to it, exist within the dominant myth/ideological system. These films represent at once a celebratory and alternatively a cautionary account of the emergence of the United States. Each however envisages a similar destiny, that of continental settlement and the sweeping away of the native inhabitants of the land. The intention of this paper is to locate the frontier myth of American expansion as the dominant narrative code in the western film and identify a single film which appears to be an exception to the unifying rule in that it exists outside of the dominant myth/ideological system of American development.