Europe cannibalizes the Western: ravenous

Donnelly, K.J. (2011) Europe cannibalizes the Western: ravenous. In, Kalinak, Kathryn (eds.) Music in the Western: Notes from the frontier. New York, USA, London, UK, Routledge, 148-164. (Routledge Music and Screen Media Series).


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While there has been something of an intermittent tradition of European Westerns, cannibal western Ravenous (1999) is a highly singular film with little clear antecedence. The film unified a number of production workers from different European countries and beyond. It stars an Australian, a Scotsman, white Americans and a native American, was shot in Slovakia, initially directed by a Serb and finally directed by an English woman. The transnational credentials of the film's production are perhaps unique.

The western is one of the most established film genres and traditions, and European attempts at a film genre so indigenous to America are often interesting, if perhaps for the wrong reasons. This paper will argue that Ravenous at least partly endeavours to negotiate the minefield of film and cultural tradition through its music. Provided by pop star Damon Albarn and scholar turned film music composer Michael Nyman, the music also has a highly singular character, and attempts to supply the film with some 'credentials'. Albarn's music at times is 'pop' influenced but also embraces and is influenced by native American music, thus appealing to the 'reality' of ethnic north American music. Similarly, Nyman's music also appeals to the reality of the time and space the film represents, with a historical and scholarly approach to music that might have been played at the time, including the limitations on performance of amateur musicians. These ‘world music’ and ‘avant garde’ approaches mark responses to the universality of the Classical film score – an ‘international style’ if ever there was one. Despite similar attempts to ‘revision’ music for westerns, here, despite the surface of Americana, there remains something stoically and determinedly European

Item Type: Book Section
ISBNs: 9780415882279 (paperback)
9780415882262 (hardback)
Related URLs:
Subjects: M Music and Books on Music > M Music
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN1993 Motion Pictures
Divisions : University Structure - Pre August 2011 > School of Humanities > Film Studies
ePrint ID: 153099
Accepted Date and Publication Date:
5 October 2011Published
Date Deposited: 20 May 2010 13:32
Last Modified: 31 Mar 2016 13:24

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