HISTORICAL AUTHENTICITY

   From the time of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show to the present, the relationship between dramatic presentations and the facts of the historical West has been problematic. Westerns in cinema have been around for far longer than the historical post–Civil War “western” period, which roughly lasted from 1865 to 1890. Questions naturally arise as to how much of what is perceived as authentic history really comes from conventions established by cinema Westerns through the decades. Wyatt Earp, for example, lived out his last years in Hollywood, dying in 1929, and he regularly served as a consultant on Western films. But the facts of the Earp legend, as well as details about characters such as Doc Holliday, the Earp brothers, Tombstone, Dodge City, and the gunfight at the O.K. Corral, are murky because nearly all that we assume we know comes from the one source—Wyatt Earp—who had a reputation to build and spin a tale when it suited him.
   But other questions of authenticity arise as well. The relationship of the Western to history is perhaps more important in defining what a Western is than even geography. We are always aware as we watch a Western that we are witnessing events that ostensibly transpired in the Western moment. The degree to which a film is historically authentic regarding geography, costume, politics, weaponry, and other matters often becomes, for some, a major factor in evaluating the quality of a film. Directors such as William S. Hart, John Ford, and Kevin Costner, in their respective periods, tended to emphasize authenticity. B Westerns and spaghetti Westerns, on the other hand, rarely respected authenticity.
   Authenticity, however, should not be confused with realism. A Western film such as Hondo (1953) might be relatively authentic yet not be realistic. Authenticity is often a superficial replication of known history and may bear little relation to the realism of human nature.

Historical Dictionary of Westerns in Cinema. . 2012.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Historical reenactment — Reenactment redirects here. For the 1968 Romanian film, see The Reenactment. Reenactment of the Gradara (Italy) siege of the 1446 …   Wikipedia

  • Historical Criticism — • The art of distinguishing the true from the false concerning facts of the past Catholic Encyclopedia. Kevin Knight. 2006. Historical Criticism     Historical Criticism      …   Catholic encyclopedia

  • Authenticity (philosophy) — Authenticity is a technical term in existentialist philosophy, and is also used in the philosophy of art and psychology. In philosophy, the conscious self is seen as coming to terms with being in a material world and with encountering external… …   Wikipedia

  • Authenticity — refers to the truthfulness of origins, attributions, commitments, sincerity, devotion, and intentions. Authenticity or Authentic may refer to: Authentication, having passed the tests thereof Authenticity (philosophy), a particular way of dealing… …   Wikipedia

  • Authenticity (reenactment) — In historical reenactment, authenticity (sometimes referred to as the A factor or simply A) is a measure of how close an item, prop, action, weapon, or custom is, to what would actually have been used or done in the time period being depicted.For …   Wikipedia

  • Historical background of New Testament — Palestine in Jesus time. A series of articles on …   Wikipedia

  • Historical method — The historical method comprises the techniques and guidelines by which historians use primary sources and other evidence to research and then to write history. The question of the nature, and indeed the possibility, of sound historical method is… …   Wikipedia

  • historical sociology — The term commonly applied to sociological analysis based on historical data sources either primary (such as original documents in archives) or secondary (the written history produced by historians themselves). There has been widespread and… …   Dictionary of sociology

  • historical criticism — Every writing in the OT and NT emerged from a particular social, political, and cultural environment over the course of many centuries, and historical criticism is a modern and tested method of exploring their various origins and tracing their… …   Dictionary of the Bible

  • Early Historical Documents On Jesus Christ —     Early Historical Documents on Jesus Christ     † Catholic Encyclopedia ► Early Historical Documents on Jesus Christ     The historical documents referring to Christ s life and work may be divided into three classes: pagan sources, Jewish… …   Catholic encyclopedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.