For the past several decades, there’s prettymuch been one flavor of Western on the block: Revisionist. Revisionism, as you may assume, is all about re-examining mainstream ideas and tropes in favor of a colder, more realist look at history. When it comes to Westerns, this means stripping away the romanticism of the old west, the black hats vs white hats moral polarization and the PG, bloodless violence in favor of a harsher reality. Revisionist Westerns are dirty, grim, and full of moral ambiguity and harsh violence. A gunshot doesn’t result in someone flying back through a saloon window in a spectacular but kid-friendly stunt. No, more often things get significantly bloodier. The morally unimpeachable heroes and dastardly villains are out, and shades of grey are in. And for the most part, all that can be pretty sweet. We’ve come to realize that the squeaky clean, technicolor old west of directors like John Ford was a fabrication, and we feel more comfortable with something closer to reality. And yet, the domination of revisionist westerns in the genre can get a little tiresome, can’t it? All the grim violence and moral ambiguity can be kind of exhausting after a while, and I’ve been feeling like a good, old fashioned, good guys vs badguys bit of fun might liven up the Western genre a little bit. Apparently, Antoine Fuqua agrees.
The first trailer for Fuqua’s star-studded remake of The Magnificent Seven was released today. Die-hard fans of the original will probably deride it as a bastardized bit of modern Hollywood fluff, and they probably aren’t far off. But still, The Magnificent Seven looks to have a much lighter, breezier, tone than most Westerns these days. Maybe that’s just the presence of Chris Pratt, but The Magnificent Seven looks fun. It looks like an enjoyable, relatively light-hearted time at the movies. Of course, this is still the director of Training Day we’re talking about, so it’s pretty likely the film has a dark side. There’ll always be room for Westerns that depict a harsh, gritty, violent old west. But I think there’s also room for Westerns that have more fun with themselves and play less to historical accuracy and more to fun. Magnificent Seven looks like it’ll fill that second niche rather nicely.
Check out the trailer below.