The classical film western enacts the myth of American manifest destiny, codifying and promulgating stories of the conquest of the West. Subsequent so-called revisionist westerns, of which John Ford’s The Searchers (1956) is the preeminent example, call this triumphal master narrative into question and probe the darker sides of American expansionism. Recent returns to the western by European auteurs both revisit the classic western and revise its revisionist extensions, foregrounding experiences of sociopolitical crisis, displacement, and disintegration of values such as community and home in an age of transnationalism and globalism. Focusing on two productions that self-consciously redeploy the western’s legacy, Thomas Bidegain’s Les Cowboys (2015) and Valeska Grisebach’s Western (2017), as well as some related examples, this article scrutinizes the myths of the genre and their enduring contemporary relevance.

You do not currently have access to this content.