American Western was the most popular film genre for almost the entire 20th century. Most of us were fascinated by the mountains of Arizona and the Wild West. The endless prairies, pyrotechnics, revolvers, bandits, Indians, the showdown between local criminals and sheriffs, and drunkenness, simply took the breath away of audiences around the world.
However, the modern enjoyer of the film seems to be fed up with these fearless heroes and the dust of the prairie. No matter how much the culture, and thus the film audience, changes, some things come back again and find the audience. In addition to many forgotten westerns, new neo-westerns are being made. One such film, which is not just another western in a series, is The Hostiles.
In addition to great pieces such as Crazy Heart, Steel Justice, and Black Mass, the magnificent Scott Cooper Miami Beach Director creates masterpieces and calls it Hostiles. Although he retired after this film and enjoying Miami Beach, Scott Cooper is a genius. Neither this is an ordinary neo-western movie, nor is this title ordinary, although it seems so. His goal is not the modernization and awakening of westerns, but the emphasis on the dramatic tension and psychology of the characters themselves.
From the beginning to the end of the film, there is a great deal of emotional tension. The title is associated with hypocrisy, and at the end of the film, you will ask yourself who the real enemies are? In his way, the unfinished story of Donald E. Stewart from 2017. , Scott continued and placed it on the cinema screen. This is the American revisionist of the Western. At the very beginning, we have a mixture of genres but also the smell of the cruelty of the new age.
The entire film is imbued with Cooper’s striking “framing” of shots. At the very beginning, there is a windowpane in the whole frame. Immediately after that, the frame is framed by a door frame. Cooper is a director and a poet, and each shot is a poem in itself. Cooper made sure to surprise us constantly. He doesn’t play just during the action, but also with the characters themselves and their behavior. He pushes his characters to the extreme and then when you think there is no over it, Cooper surprises us and shows that there is.
It is not only physical but also moral survival. Not to mention the emotional. And what is perhaps crucial: every character who survived, that is, who is alive in a certain part of the film, went through hell. However, no matter how emotionally dead the character is, the love of life is still felt. That’s where Scott excelled. Through the form of the western, the struggles and tensions of the modern age are shown.
Who are the hostiles?
One should not be overly intelligent and notice that the film title gives a direct insight into what will happen in the film. This is not, as might be expected, two warring parties armed to the teeth and waiting for the right opportunity. Title ‘’Hostiles’’ have a much deeper meaning and in this case, it refers to two irreconcilable enemies. On the one hand, we have Joseph Blocker who is just a retired captain in the cavalry. On the other side is the warlord of the Cheyenne tribe and Blocker’s longtime enemy and prisoner of the Yellow Hawk.
The captain and his enemy and the warlord and his enemy. This hatred is not just philosophical, based on beliefs. Both of these brave men have taken various actions against each other and do not regret it. Now, if you thought that the story of enemies ends here, you are sorely mistaken! The essence of the word enemy is just beginning. It all starts with her: Rosalee Quaid. Women have really special places in western movies, and this is one of the most characteristic ones.
The movie starts with her
Rosalee Quaid’s story goes like this: Rosalie, her two daughters, a newborn son, and her husband dined in peace. The daily family routine was interrupted by the Comanche attack. Seeing the Indians relentlessly arriving, the head of the family asks the woman to flee into the woods with the children. His fight to defend the hearth did not last long because the numerous Indians were ruthless. Even more ruthless were their bullets from rifles that reached the small bodies of their children.
Rosalie didn’t give up. Bathed in the blood of her dead son, she still finds shelter in the woods with him in her arms. Creepy as if it were a horror film and cruel as if Tarantino had a stake. Only Cooper can record this. Many directors repeated what had already been seen, saying what had already been heard. Cooper was screaming new old issues. Only he can connect mortal enemies in 130 minutes. Only he connects the incompatible. And it was he who started the second story that took place on the same day.
Captain Blocker has been assigned a duty he could not even dream of! His mortal enemy is very ill and he should accompany him and his family safely to his native land. Really, HE? It’s as if life puts him to the greatest test so far. Blocker appears as a representative of the American soul: hard, isolated, stoic. The relationship between these two characters shows more than the history of these two people. They are two sides of the same coin.
The real plot begins the next day when the group encounters Rosalee. This shows Joseph’s amazing trait where he decides to accompany the poor woman. The compassion and empathy of a man who caught Indians with a lasso without thinking what would happen to them. Here Cooper describes men as strong soft-hearted types. The captain holds a chained yellow hawk, while the chief’s daughter comforts the grieving woman.
In this scene, Cooper sends a strong message: the country’s future is to emphasize similarities and search for difference. This is a strong message that the director is sending, it is just a question of whether it is heard far enough. The conversation is the key to everything. That is why the night talks of this crew from the campfire last for a very long time. More precisely, they are very slow, as if crawling. In the end, the hardest thing is to live with yourself, and this is one of the basic lessons of the film.
Evolution is necessary, evolution has begun! Superhero western films illustrated some kind of that change. Western heroes are simply subject to change. Enemies still see the west as a land of opportunity. At the end of the film, we learn that all the characters have their own history, and by learning from each other, they also learn something about themselves. Some things still have to happen to find out who we are and see that we are often our own worst enemies.