During the first decade of the new millennium, a number of epic films appeared in quick succession exploring broadly speaking a clash of cultures through mythic-historic narratives. Although the 2004 film Hidalgo (dir. Joe Johnston) was overshadowed by some of the more successful works at the time, this paper argues that it makes a distinct contribution to the field through a nostalgic-ironic reframing of traditional Western genre tropes. Linking Western and Eastern myths about equestrian nomadic culture, the film follows in the footsteps of nineteenth century orientalist art and critically re-evaluates the very origins of the Western as a cinematic genre. Balancing nostalgia with ironic critique, Hidalgo confronts and subverts some of the most iconic tropes of the Western, and consequently raises a number of interesting broader questions about our engagement with the past and the American ideal of a melting pot.


Mythic-historic narratives, Western genre troupes, Film genre, Iconic tropes

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