The man just wanted to see his kid. But, you know, you live by the sword…

united states, 1950, english


The Gunfighter

I’m discovering that there is a type of western I really enjoy. It’s the ones where a character is waiting for something inevitable to happen and we wait with them. Examples include 3:10 to Yuma and High Noon, both of which I absolutely adore. This film falls squarely into that category as well, and it was another massive hit with me.

I’ve been trying to find some mental energy to examine what it is about that premise that works so well for me. Maybe it’s universally great and I’m just an average movie watching Joe. I would believe that. But I wonder if there’s something specific to my own personality that is also playing out here.

In general, I tend to be reactive rather than proactive to the changes that life brings. I don’t tend to dwell much on the past or the future. I tend to exist in the present, with daydreams of the future and hazy memories from the past. A bit like a top down scrolling video game, I adjust my strategy as needed for what’s suddenly on screen. It’s a quality that drives my wife crazy anytime long-term planning is required for something to be successful. And she’s right, I’m hopeless.

On top of that, I have a great deal of anxiety about the known unknowns. That is, I hate anticipation, when I don’t know how the thing I’m anticipating is likely to play out. What’s interesting, is that it’s true even if I firmly believe that things are going to turn out well. Which I usually do. It’s not the uncertainty of outcome that bothers me, but the uncertainty of change. I just want it to be over with already.

All of that adds up to me wondering if the reason I like this format so much is that it’s much nicer to process that kind of uncertainty when it’s effecting some one else’s life and not mine? Or maybe it’s the certainty that Hollywood Westerns give. The end is inevitable so there is no point in thinking about it. Certainly when things are outside my control I tend not to dwell much on them. I don’t know. Maybe this was just great.