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Western and the Man Who Shot Liberty Valance

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In The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, all of the fundamental elements of Western movies can be easily seen.

The first element requires the movie to have characters whose physical and mental toughness separate them from the crowds of modern civilization. Tom Doniphon stands out as being tough and a little rough around the edges. He is one of the few people who is not afraid of Liberty Valance, and won’t think twice about standing up to him. Liberty Valance is another character who is separated by his bold and violent actions. He refuses to follow the law and does what he pleases. Liberty Valance and Tom Doniphon are both very physically and mentally tough. In a different way, Ransom Stoddard is a character that stands out as being mentally tough as well. No matter how many people advise him to get out of town and run from Liberty Valance, he refuses to leave or buy a gun, and sticks around to stand up for himself and what he believes in (justice and the law). He has a strong head on his shoulders and can take a lot of Liberty’s threats and attitude. All of these characters stand out from the crowds of modern civilization with their mental and/or physical toughness.

The second element of Western movies is the presence of narratives that follow some version of a quest into the natural world. Ransom provides most of the narrative in this film because he is a representative leader. He tries to change the town of Shinbone and instill a system of justice and law. While Ransom is a big provider of narrative in the movie, it can also be seen around all of the violent confrontation between Liberty Valance and his gang and the townspeople. On multiple occasions, Liberty and his gang harassed and beat an innocent townsperson and destroyed their belongings or part of their lives (Mr. Peabody and the newspaper/office). The violent outbreaks are very central to the narratives in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.

The final element of Western film is a stylistic emphasis on open, natural spaces and settings, such as the western frontier regions of the United States. In this case, the film takes place in and around a small town in the west called Shinbone. Around the town is desert and wide open ranges, with mountains in the distance. The setting of the film looks very natural, like it was filmed in the wide open west. It is dry and arid. Hallie mentions early on that there is



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