Aesthetic Exploration: The Wild West in “Westworld”

The “Wild West” includes the time period ranging from pre-Revolutionary America to the early 1900’s, but is most commonly coined between the Civil War (1865) and about 1912. In movies and shows, the setting is the American Frontier, or Southwestern United States. Today, this would be Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Arizona, California, Utah, and Nevada. The aesthetic itself often includes colorful sunsets of purples, reds, and oranges over the arid desert, as Ron Niebrugge captured in the following photograph in Arizona, USA.

The cowboy is the character of the “Wild West.” Actor John Wayne is famous for being a western cowhand in many films ranging from 1930’s to the 1960’s. The cowboy always has his trusted steed, leather chaps, boots with spurs, a .45 Revolver, a lasso, and of course, the cowboy hat. In films, the background could be a range of music from whistling to a Native American flute, even piano, violin, guitar, and banjo melodies are common. Can you imagine the possible twang playing during this roundup?

And at the end of a long day of herding cattle, chasing outlaws, and defending one’s property from foreign invaders, the cowboys would all meet at the saloons with the local sheriff and Marshall to drink whiskey and play cards.

In October 2016, HBO released the new series “Westworld.” The series follows a Western-themed futuristic theme park, populated with artificial intelligence, which allows high-paying guests to live out their fantasies with no consequences or retaliation from the android hosts. William and Logan (characters of the HBO show in the following image) are two of these high-paying guests who expect to be blown away while completely engulfed in the theme park for weeks at a time. In order for the guests to truly feel that they are in the “Wild West” they are dropped from a train in a rebuilt town resembling a mining town or crossroads in the West. They are dressed for the occasion along with all other hosts. William and Logan each have a leather holster with a revolver on their hip, but varying styled hats, jackets, vests, and pants.

The following image shows the town behind two other characters in the show. The structures are entirely wooden with simple shapes, decks out front, horse stocks in the road, and dirt paths. The horses are tethered while the townsfolk are away. The lady in this image is sporting a common lever-action rifle used in the post-Civil War era as well.

A different town in the theme park has similar style with some Southern aspects as well, like clay adobe buildings and a central well.

The vast beautiful landscapes that give the feeling of the classic Westerns are located in the arid deserts of Utah and Arizona. Clay and sandstone ranging from light brown to dark red is often seen in Monument Valley, where what-is-now the San Juan River has carved away at the rocks for millions of years, similar to the formation process of the Grand Canyon in Arizona from the Colorado River.

Image 1 of Arizona: http://images.fineartamerica.com/images-medium-large/usa-arizona-organ-pipe-national-monument-sunset-robert-glusic.jpg

Images 2 and 3 of Cowboy and Whiskey: https://www.google.com/search?q=wild+west+aesthetic&hl=en&biw=1517&bih=708&site=webhp&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&sqi=2&ved=0ahUKEwiIwZGuvNvRAhUB5GMKHRTUBtEQ_AUIBigB#imgrc=_

Images 4 and 5 of “Westworld”: http://blogs-images.forbes.com/insertcoin/files/2016/10/westworld-new1-1200×800.jpg?width=960

Images 6 and 7 of “Westworld” Locations: http://www.atlasofwonders.com/2016/10/westworld-filming-locations.html

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