As the year is set to slip into 2016, this site takes stock of both the ongoing and upcoming major release Westerns that will be screening in the New Year. The list is impressive and signals the continued resonance of the genre, some 100 years on from The Great Train Robbery (1903). (Note: the release dates provided are for the United States and Canada.)
THE HATEFUL EIGHT – 70mm Release – US & Canada: December 25th (2015) / Digital Release – Canada: December 31st (2015), US: January 1st, 2016
Quentin Tarantino’s latest film (and second consecutive Western) features a strong ensemble cast led by Kurt Russell and Samuel L. Jackson. Set in the years after the US Civil War, Russell is a bounty hunter attempting to deliver a female fugitive (Jennifer Jason Leigh) to trial. While travelling by stagecoach across a wintery Wyoming landscape, they are joined by a former Union soldier-turned-bounty hunter (Jackson) and a former Confederate (Walton Goggins), who claims to be the sheriff of the town where Russell is headed. A blizzard forces this group to take shelter in a stagecoach station, joining four other men unknown to them. Suspicion, tension and violence then develop as obstacles for Russell’s character.
THE REVENANT– US: December 25th (2015) / Canada: January 8th (2016)
Directed by the Oscar-winning Alejandro Inarritu, The Revenant is based on the real-life story of mountain man Hugh Glass (1780-1833). Set in 1823, Leonardo DiCaprio plays Glass, who is (and was) left for dead by two fur company companions after being mauled by a grizzly bear. Both historically and in the film, Glass survives and sets out on a revenge quest against the two men, played by Tom Hardy and Will Poulter on-screen. The term “revenant” refers to a ghost or corpse that returns from the dead to threaten the living.
DIABLO – US: January 8th, 2016
Scott Eastwood plays a Civil War veteran who attempts to recover his kidnapped wife while dealing with his own internal struggle post-war. Eastwood is joined by an interesting cast that includes Camilla Belle, Danny Glover, Walton Goggins, and Adam Beach. This Western premiered at the 2015 San Diego Film Festival, winning the award for Best Feature Film. For clips from the film, visit the post Scott Eastwood Western.
JANE GOT A GUN – US: January 29th, 2016
Natalie Portman stars as Jane Hammond, a woman trying to protect her family from an outlaw gang, whose leader is played by Ewan McGregor. With a wounded outlaw-husband, Portman’s character seeks the help of her former fiancé (Joel Edgerton).
FORSAKEN – US & Canada: February 19th, 2016
Following its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival in September, this Western starring father and son, Donald and Kiefer Sutherland, is now set for its general North American release. Directed by Jon Cassar and set in post-Civil War Wyoming, the Sutherlands in fact play father and son in the film. Kiefer Sutherland is John Henry Clayton, a gunslinger returning to his hometown to leave his past behind and reconcile with his now-widowed father, the Reverend William Clayton (Donald Sutherland). Events will challenge those efforts, as a would-be tycoon (Brian Cox) is using intimidation and force to drive area farmers from their land so as to re-sell it to the arriving railroad. The cast also includes Demi Moore, Michael Wincott, and Aaron Poole (of Strange Empire (2014-15)).
As the above roll call demonstrates, the Western genre continues to draw strong and varied creative talent. It is a 21st century irony that when it comes to the very first film genre, that many viewers today must have an open mind to take in a Western. They are often rewarded when they do.
Westernsreboot.com (and this writer) wishes all a positive and safe start to the New Year.
(Copyright – Chad Beharriell)