Dusty trails, gravely voices and folk with restless revolvers upon their hips, quite possibly the quintessential Wild West image. Perhaps a lone cowboy enters an unfamiliar saloon and is met by stares of distrust from all corners of the now silent establishment. Decades ago the young face of cinema cast its gaze upon a bygone era, an era where maverick cowboys roamed the land and tension was palpable. Epitomised by tense showdowns and the “Yee-Haw” of horse riders, over the years the setting of the classic west has found a home in the history of cinema.
Over the years there may have been some standout Westerns and during the 60s the genre saw a renaissance. Titles like One Upon a time in the west and A Fistful of Dollars may have defined the genre by painting captivating tales of the West. Around this time of chiselled sharpshooters there was a film released by the name of The Magnificent Seven. Released in 1960, The Magnificent Seven set out to film a diverse cast of Hollywood celebrities as a cohesive team. The Magnificent Seven saw seven gunslingers band together to protect a small village from a band of outlaws. However, it may be worth noting, the 1960s version of The Magnificent Seven is a remake, one which seems to have drawn inspiration from another film, a film which shares the same lucky number.
In 1954, Japanese director Akira Kurosawa released a film titled Seven Samurai, the film follows the journey of seven ronin — the term for samurai without masters. At the time of its release, Seven Samurai was a hailed as a technical achievement and an accolade for cinema. Scenes and themes from Seven Samurai may be seen reflected in the tale of The Magnificent Seven, albeit, instead of samurai swords the remake is infused with Western charm. Drawing on the synopsis and cinematography of the Seven Samurai, The Magnificent Seven represents Hollywood’s attempt to adopt and remould an adventure for Western audiences.
The resolute roots of The Magnificent Seven may have a firm history in cinema and 2016 marks the release of latest vision for the cowboy adventure. With the modern release of The Magnificent Seven, director Antoine Fuqua (Training Day, The Equaliser) aims to bring this classic film to the present-day audiences. To bring this adventure of outlaws, gamblers and gunslingers to the screen, Antoine Fuqua recruited an assorted cast to fill each valiant role of the Magnificent Seven.
Having previously worked together, Antoine Fuqua recruited actor Denzel Washington to saddle up for the lead role. The duo had previously won an Academy Award for their work together on the 2001 film Training Day and saw success worldwide with the most recent release in 2014 with The Equaliser. With Denzel Washington cast as the lead for the Magnificent Seven, Antoine Fuqua set out to fill the other six positions. The filmmaker’s next step was to reach out to Chris Pratt (Jurrasic World, Guardians of the Galaxy) who eagerly responded and soon joined Antoine Fuqua’s new team of seven.
Once on board with the project, Denzel Washington and Chris Pratt still needed 5 more actors to make up the rest of the iconic Seven. Soon the seven was complete and rounding out the group were the talents of Ethan Hawke (Boyhood, Before Sunrise), Vincent D’Onofrio (Daredevil, Full Metal Jacket), Byung-Hun Lee (Terminator Genisys, Red 2), Manuel Garcia-Rulfo (Bless Me Ultima, One for the Road) and newcomer Martin Sensmeier. With its culturally diverse cast of characters The Magnificent Seven aims to offer a classic tale to modern cinema with a gun spinning bang.
Although the film has seen much iteration, the 2016 version of The Magnificent Seven aims to revitalise the Western genre with its modern tale on this classic tale.
How might The Magnificent Seven revitalise the Western genre?