Each Monday, I continue to share Western movie reviews as I go through the process of making my own 12 Westerns in 12 Months during 2020. I am watching these films not from an audience perspective but as a filmmaker, as a student of the genre.
Week Seventy Eight: Black ’47
I caught the trailer for Black ’47 months ago and haven’t forgotten about it since. Seeing the title pop up on Netflix’s list of Westerns, I was excited to dig into what might be a new, solid entry in the genre. Thankfully, it did not disappoint.
Though the First Blood comparisons are valid, Black ’47 goes beyond any kind of historic Rambo. The famine setting is the perfect circumstances of desperation for a Western. The Irish landscape, as portrayed by this filmmaker’s, feels as barren and treacherous as a dry desert. The film is harsh, violent yet feels grounded. It has good action but not over the top. Our hero never feels superhuman like they do in so many genre films these days. He is played with ferocity by James Frecheville, a role that should be a star-making turn but will likely get forgotten. Weaving and Rea are terrific as usual. The casting from support to extras is spot on.
It’s really an amazing film, spoiled for me only by a cliffhanger ending that felt unnecessary. What was the point of leaving us hanging there?
Seen on Netflix.