I don’t know how serious lordradish is in relation to this term ‘deconstruction’, but it seems to me there’s some confusion about the meaning of the term. If you ask me, lordradish is more looking for revisionist, demythologizing westerns, and a deconstructionist western (if such a thing exists) is not the same as a revisionist western. Stanton proposes Peckinpah’s Ride the High country, and says about it:
“Ride the High country is clearly a #2 type of western. The first of its kind in which the “real” west is contrasted with the mythological one. It started the cycle of the so called Twilight westerns, and for that it is one of the most influential westerns ever.”
Might all be true, but ‘contrasting the real west with the mythological one’ is not a thing a deconstructionist is after. The whole idea of a “real” West, relates to a concept of “truth”, which is alien to the philosophy of deconstruction. To a deconstructionist, “reality” or “truth” are mere representations, constructions. Every representation exists among other representations, they all interfere, that is: refer to each other (and not any possible ‘reality’) (This is more or less what Derrida’s Il n’ya as de hors-texte means). The aim of the deconstructionist is to de-construct the construction. He peels off layer after layer, reveals preconceptions, and his work is interminable, every peeled-off layer reveals another layer, reveals other preconceptions, and so forth. Deconstruction is a process, a never ending process, and in that sense no film, western or other, can ever be genuinely ‘deconstructionist’: it can only be part of a deconstructionist approach, instigate the process.
Anyway, the meta-westerns mentioned by Cat Stevens come closest. They are concerned with the idea of construction and de-construction, and the idea of ‘representation’. The Man who shot Liberty Valence is a good example, but a deconstructionist would oppose to this opposition of truth versus reality that lies at the heart of the story. The suggestion is made that what Jimmy Stewart’s character tells to the newspaper man is ‘the truth’. Those flashbacks ‘reveal what really has happened’, they literally bring us back to the real events. But what is presented as the truth (and opposed to the myth) in this movie, is also a representation, a construction, we have to de-construct. All kind of preconceptions lie at the base of the representation, and even if we get to the truth of Liberty Valence, it’s only the truth of the movie, which is, of course, a mere representation, a mere construction in itself, that must be deconstructed. And so forth. And. So. Forth.
It can be very interesting to look at a movie like this. It can be very instructive to distinguish several layers, and note what semiotic language (see Cat Stevens’ post, last post, page 1) and which preconceptions are used to illustrate the idea of truth and myth. In Austin Fisher’s article on politics in films like A Bullet from the General you’ll find a few very interesting remarks too, especially in regard to the camerawork (the way characters are ‘represented’). But again, I’m not sure that this is what lordradish is after. It’s my experience that people who have no academic background, quickly get bored (or worse: irritated) by a similar approach.
(I am, by the way, not a deconstructionist)
Austin Fisher’s article: