A Western Take on “King Lear”

Caroline Fassett, Staff Writer

On Nov. 25, the Campus Theatre will screen The Man from Laramie” as a part of the Bucknell Film/Media Series screenings held on Tuesdays at 7 p.m. throughout the semester.

“The Man from Laramie” is a 1955 American Western directed by Anthony Mann and starring James Stewart. Mann and Stewart had teamed up for four previous Western collaborations; this film was their fifth and final one, and commonly considered to be one of their best. Stewart plays Will Lockhart, a stranger who becomes entangled in the lives of an autocratic rancher and his rancorous son and defies them by selling rifles to one of their oldest rivals, the Apaches. The film was shot in Technicolor and is one of the first Westerns to be filmed in CinemaScope, which was used to capture the vastness of the scenery.

Though students majoring in film/media studies are certain to be entertained by the critically praised and historically fascinating cowboy film, Shakespeare enthusiasts are likely to be delighted by the picture as well. “The Man from Laramie” has widely been interpreted as a Western version of “King Lear,” one of Shakespeare’s tragedies that tells the story of a man who falls into madness after endowing his estate to his two deceitful daughters.

The film highly succeeds in creating an elaborate yet coherent network of character relationships that are central to the plot and tone. Though the subject matter is complex, the picture is shot clearly and cleanly. Made over half a century ago, the aesthetics of the film remain impressive; filmgoers will doubtlessly enjoy the striking visuals. For any student craving a psychological thriller filled with crime and suspense, the classic “The Man from Laramie” promises a terrific beginning to the Thanksgiving break.

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