If there’s any person on this planet that knows how to make a “good” Western film, it’s undoubtedly Clint Eastwood.
The actor and director has made an indelible mark in cinema and initially did so with his captivating performances in films like Hang ‘Em High, A Fistful of Dollars and The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.
After becoming one of the most prominent actors in the industry, Eastwood took on directing. The best example of his foray into directing might be High Plains Drifter. Not only does Eastwood take on the role of “The Stranger,” he also showed off his directing chops in one of the most acclaimed Westerns ever.
So, if it isn’t clear already for those living under a rock, the man knows a thing or two about the genre. Art is up to interpretation, but in many cases, Clint Eastwood isn’t just an artist, he’s a teacher.
Watch Clint Eastwood Explain Westerns
That notion of being a teacher is where we find Eastwood in the video below. Uploaded by the American Film Institute in 2009, Eastwood briefly and succinctly sums up what a Western needs to hit the next level.
“The story is the king,” Eastwood starts. “And everything else is interpretive art around it. The actors, the directors and all the other things that go into it. So, what makes a good Western is a really good story.”
Simple enough, but Eastwood isn’t finished there.
“How well you tell it, of course, is really important. Who plays in it, if you cast it properly. I am also a proponent of casting a film properly, regardless of genre. If you cast it really well, and people fit the parts and it captures the imagination, I think you’re halfway there, or more than halfway there.”
This may seem like a given, but Eastwood has been around the block more than most and has likely seen several films suffer due to the desire to get big names in production.
And, at the end of the day, Eastwood again says that the story itself is most important.
“Just a good story,” Eastwood said. “I know I’ve had trouble finding stories over the years when I want to do a Western. When I got Unforgiven back in the early 90s, actually I bought it in 1980, but I did it in 1992, it was just a unique approach to it.”
Eastwood goes on to say he still hasn’t found a Western since that “appealed” to him and would take him “to another level.”
When you know what it takes to make a good Western, you get picky.
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