On Tuesday, I recommended Rich Hall’s ‘Dirty South’.
Hall’s 2008 documentary, ‘How the West Was Lost’ was repeated on BBC4 this week. Having enjoyed Dirty South, I decided to watch and find out where Hall’s documentary film journey began, way out West.
With fewer acerbic diatribes and decidedly less Hollywood-bashing, Hall unravels the rich history of the Western genre, laying down a chronological timeline of, well, How the West Was Lost. From the early Westerns like My Darling Clementine, popularised by pulp novels and histories of the town of Tombstone, Hall and his film historian interviewees examine the growth of the genre and their appeal to American audiences.
From early-day Westerns to the proliferation of the 50s and the tumultuous 60s, Hall drags us through the Western mud to the death knell of the 70s. This industry-long film pilgrimage – many times longer than the Western frontier history itself – is examined with reference to the political climates in which the films were made and in relation to film history.
Ultimately over-long and without the tightly scripted verve of Dirty South, Hall has since outdone himself. How the West Was Lost is informative but easier on the wit, and at least 15 minutes too long. If you love yourself a Western, you may find it’s worth a watch. However, I still recommend that you catch Dirty South while you still can.
Have you watched Rich Hall’s Dirty South or How the West Was Lost? What are your thoughts?