I like a good revisionist Western…

I’m still convalescing from the Covid, and isolating is sending me mildly around the twist.

To keep me somewhat sane, I have been paying more attention to streaming TV than usual.

Which led me to start watching The English, a revisionist Western series starring Emily Blunt, an aristocratic Englishwoman setting out in the American West in 1890 on a quest for vengeance, accompanied by an Indian scout.

Once she overcomes the original shock of being in a savage land, Lady Cornelia shows herself to be no mere damsel in distress. She calmly drowns a man in a bucket in the opening episode, and then in the second episode shows that her time spent playing the games of the English country house landed gentry are portable to the West by killing an Indian bush whacker with his own bow and arrow.

In this, I am reminded of one of the early revisionist Westerns from circa 1970, a very dark and self-doubting time in US History, Soldier Blue.

Soldier Blue starred a young (and surprising beautiful) Candace Bergen as the strong willed and self reliant heroine, leading her supposed escort, the eponymous Union Army private played by Peter Strauss, through the American wilderness, right up to the horror of a massacre of unarmed Indians at the end.

It was a naked allegory for My Lai and similar atrocities committed by the US Army in Vietnam.

The English does not seem to have the same urgency of message as Soldier Blue did. The savagery of the people (mostly white) is taken for granted, and the atrocities and breeches of faith by the US Government are wearily accepted as the natural order.

But that perhaps is because in five decades a lot has happened in America and they no longer trust their governments as much as they did at the time when Soldier Blue shocked us, and are far more willing to accept that frequently, they might actually be the bad guys.

What once caused us horror and required some suspension of disbelief, we now realise to be the truth. And perhaps that realisation can help both America, and humanity in general, to seek better ways of dealing with each other.

Published by Ernest Zanatta

Narrow minded Italian Catholic Conservative Peasant from Footscray.

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