The popularity of the Western film is the focus of a new program showing at the Australian Cinémathèque at Brisbane’s Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA) this spring.

Saddling up on 11 September and riding through until mid November 2015, ‘The Western’ looks back at the genre’s early roots in silent cinema and modern day interpretations, and features works by celebrated directors including John Ford, Sergio Leone, Akira Kurosawa, Clint Eastwood and Quentin Tarantino.

Amanda Slack-Smith, Associate Curator, Australian Cinémathèque, Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA) said ‘The Western’ would celebrate a genre made famous by iconic images of lone cowboys, Native Americans and barren landscapes.

‘The popularity of the Western is due in part to its exploration of honour, sacrifice and freedom. Set in a mythic vision of the west, rather than the west itself, the genre has influenced the way we think about individualism and nature,’ said Ms Slack-Smith.

The ticketed program includes classics such as The Searchers 1956, The Magnificent Seven 1960 and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly 1966, alongside a selection of international Westerns and Australia’s unique approach, including the futuristic Mad Max 2 1981 and The Proposition 2005, set in Australia’s colonial past.

Public programs for ‘The Western’ will include an illustrated talk by Dr David Baker, Lecturer, School of Humanities, Griffith University on Saturday 19 September. Dr Baker will examine the genre since the 1900s and the way it mirrors the broader history of cinema.

The Gallery will host four live music and film events showcasing the important role played by silent cinema from the genre. Brisbane-based contemporary chamber ensemble Nonsemble will present new scores for three short films – The Great Train Robbery 1903, The Story of the Kelly Gang 1906 and The Invaders 1912 – on 13 September, as well as for John Ford’s silent masterpiece The Iron Horse 1924 on 1 November.

Newly-restored cinema rarity The Daughter of Dawn 1920, with its entirely Native American cast, will screen on 27 September with live accompaniment by David Bailey on the Gallery’s Wurlitzer Organ.

Buster Keaton’s slapstick silent comedy Go West 1925 will be soundtracked with live music and sound effects in a unique performance event on 15 November. Audiences can experience the clip-clop of horse’s hooves and the whistles of steam trains in a playful reimagining of the film.

‘The Western’ is a ticketed program at the Australian Cinémathèque at GOMA from 11 September to 15 November 2015. Cinema tickets on sale now, adults $9.00, concession $7.00 and Gallery members $6.00. Live music and film events $15.00, Gallery members $12.00. Booking fees apply online.

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