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A Western Sense of Place: The Case of George Stevens’s 'Shane'

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-18, 12:23 authored by Jeffery MalpasJeffery Malpas
The Western is the only full-fledged film genre defined by geographical location. Yet does this mean that place, or a sense of place, plays a more significant role in the Western than in other film genres? On the face of it, it would seem that it does not. Place often appears in the Western as little more than the scenic background to the action that is the real thread of the film—and sometimes, given the generic character of many Western locations, it is not even especially scenic. Yet there are aspects of the way place figures in the Western, or in particular Westerns, that does suggest the possibility that place can take on a more significant and complex role in such films, and that there might, after all, be such a thing as a Western sense of place. Taking George Stevens’s Shane as an example, together with two other related films, Clint Eastwood’s Pale Rider and Martin Ritt’s Hud, this article explores the way place figures in one of the classic films of the genre. Key Words: film, identity, landscape, philosophical topography, place. It is hard to be pessimistic about the West. This is the native home of hope. When it fully learns that cooperation, not rugged individualism, is the pattern that most characterizes and preserves it, then it will have achieved itself and outlived its origins. Then it has a chance to create a society to match its scenery.


Publication title







School of Humanities


Taylor and Francis Group

Place of publication

United States

Rights statement

Copyright 2015 Association of American Geographers

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Expanding knowledge in philosophy and religious studies

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