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Kaleberg

You should look up the Johnston County Land War of 1892 if you think the villain of the new movie was a true anachronism. The army got involved, but after the war was over. If I remember correctly, the army rescued the bad guys. That kind of land grab was common back then and usually ended with the surviving little guys slinking away quietly.

I'm not sure I'd like the new version of The Magnificent Seven. If nothing else, I'm not all that fond of the modern custom of giving everyone a damned backstory. Do I really need to know everything about everyone's grandparents and grade school crush? Does it really add anything to the story?

The whole point of The Seven Samurai and The Magnificent Seven was that it told stories about archetypes, not individuals. Yes, you can humanize archetypes. Shakespeare was great at that, but we are never told why Falstaff took to drink or who loved Sir Andrew. Filling in the backstory would have weakened the work, and Shakespeare was smart enough to know it.

A surprising number of westerns, and particularly the better westerns, were about the closing of the frontier. Look at Shane or The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. I think it fit in with the sense of the times. The open frontier required one type of hero. The civilized world another.

Lance Mannion

Kaleberg, as it happens I'm reading a novel about Billy the Kid, titled, straight-forwardly enough, The Kid, and I've just reached the part where the Johnson County Cattle War is beginning. The Army has already taken the "wrong" side. Nothing like that happens in The Magnificent Seven. Bogue operates entirely on his own, never having to deal with any competitors or bribe any politicians or face any resistance other than the Seven. The government simply doesn't exist so he doesn't get special treatment or any help. So his part of the story isn't realistic in the way you describe. But he's also not realistic in being pretty much a cartoon. That was fine with me. Sarsgaard is fun to watch. I was just pointing out that in that respect the original is actually more realistic.

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