BBC Radio 4

Ellen E Jones and Mark Kermode guide us through the expanding universe of the moving image revealing fascinating links and hidden gems from cinema and TV to streaming and beyond.

Categories: TV & Film

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The Great American Western is having a resurgence - from Yellowstone and Bass Reeves on TV, to Beyoncé's acclaimed country album Cowboy Carter. Kevin Costner is back in the director’s saddle too, with his Horizon: An American Saga Chapter 1 - the first in a planned series of epic Westerns - recently riding into cinemas.

But has the cinematic Western adapted to the modern age or is it trapped in a one-sided history of the past? Ellen E Jones and Mark Kermode examine the enduring popularity of a genre that refuses to die.

Mark speaks to cultural historian and Spaghetti Western obsessive Christopher Frayling about the genre’s 19th century roots, and about the impact of films like The Searchers and The Wild Bunch. And he talks to prolific independent director John Sayles, whose 1996 film Lone Star was nominated by the American Film Institute as one of the Fifty Best Westerns of all time.

Meanwhile, Ellen explores the history of Black cowboys on screen with Mia Mask, author of Black Rodeo: A History of the African American Western. And she speaks to Jeymes Samuel - the galvanising force behind films like recent biblical epic The Book Of Clarence and 2021’s all-Black, all-star Western, The Harder They Fall. Jeymes tells Ellen why he was drawn to the genre - and why Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained might be due a reassessment.

Producer: Jane Long A Prospect Street production for BBC Radio 4

Previous episodes

  • 74 - The Western 
    Fri, 12 Jul 2024
  • 73 - Love Triangles 
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  • 72 - Meryl Streep 
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  • 71 - Films That Changed the World 
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