What are some of the more accurate westerns? I know over the years the orthodoxy of how cowboys etc. would have dressed has changed in cinema as have other western cinematic conventions so which are the more accurate portrayals? Are they all typically more myth based than documentary? What other period films have you seen that are as true as they can be to the times they’re portraying? Obviously no one posting on SDMB was alive in the days of the Old West so I suppose I’m looking for accuracy in attire, mores, and historical fact where historical figures are portrayed. Again, the floor is open to other period films, not necessarily of a western setting.
You might like Heartland, a 1979 Western starring Conchata Ferrell and Rip Torn.
There’s no gunfighting, no conventional Western action… just a solid attempt at showing what life on a remote Wyoming ranch would have been like a century ago.
Buster Keaton’s The General took great pains to authentically recreate the Civil War era it is set in. Consider that it was made about as close in time to its period as Saving Private Ryan, and there were probably veterans that could give it that feel. It’s also famous, of course, for creating a scene of a train going off a bridge into a river by … filming a train going off a bridge into a river.
Topsy Turvy is considered an accurate portrayal of Victorian England.
I love that movie. When I got a Kindle, one of the first free books I downloaded was Letters from a Woman Homesteader by Elinore Pruitt Stewart. I’m reading it and thinking, “Hmmmm, this sounds a lot like the movie Heartland”. Well duh, that’s what it was. That woman is my hero. There’s a lot in the book that didn’t make it to the movie.
I also love westerns but have no clue about accuracy. Seems like if a movie gets the clothing correct, it’s inaccurate somewhere else, like in its treatment of Indians or women, or it’ll have every man wearing a six-shooter, or it’ll be set in a cattle town and there’s nary a cowpie on the street.
While it did not strictly follow the actual events, I found Heaven’s Gate to be accurate in its portrayal of the times. I especially liked the costuming and accoutrements.
It’s been years since I’ve seen it, but as I recall McCabe & Mrs. Miller was a western that gave the sense of being realistic.
Also (and this I haven’t seen at all) isn’t Deadwood considered pretty accurate?
Will Penny pretty much gets a lot of it right.
Meeks Cutoff was very good.
Just take a Prozac after you see it.
First take an upper to stay awake through it.
I’d also say Deadwood was likely not too far off. One of the big problems with period pieces, particularly those that take place in the 1800s and earlier, is that everyone is too damned clean. People in England and America in the 1800s, including royalty, were largely unwashed. It was considered unhealthy to bathe too often. Film actors would most likely balk at being filthy, and the focus is on the stars for the most part. Deadwood had a pretty grungy cast of characters; the streets were muck, the rooms crude, and the men and women cruder yet. Even Swearengen sat around in his filthy long-johns.
My understanding is that the swearing is more accurate-in-spirit than accurate-to-the-letter–I read somewhere that blasphemy was the thing there; had they followed it in form, it would’ve sounded quaint. So instead, we got a lot of cocksuckers.
I’ve always enjoyed the griminess of the classic Leone spaghetti westerns. I doubt they’re accurate in general, but the spirit–no one’s really a white-hat, and no one’s taken a bath in a month (except for Tuco, heh!)–always seemed about right.