- The grand appeal of the West was its untamed frontier, and Westerns celebrate its desolate landscape. But the undercurrent of all Westerns is the steady encroachment of civilizationand ultimately the cultivation of the desert for useful purposes. Typical of this theme is The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962), where the eastern lawyer, derided early in the film, ultimately goes to Congress and brings irrigation to the area, thus civilizing it and turning the desert into a garden. Also typical is Cimarron (1960), where we watch the process of the no man’s land of Indian Territory become the early 20th-century oil empire of Oklahoma.
Historical Dictionary of Westerns in Cinema. Paul Varner. 2012.
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