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Portrayals of Degenerate Religious Leaders in Contemporary Film Westerns

Marek Paryż


This article discusses three contemporary film Westerns – Sweetwater (2013, dir. Logan Miller), The Duel (2016, dir. Kieran Darcy-Smith), and Brimstone (2016, dir. Martin Koolhoven) – with respect to their depiction of certain extreme forms of religiosity as a manifestation of the degeneration of the settler colonial social order. The plots of these three films revolve around the conflict between the hero/heroine and his/her antagonist who happens to be a charismatic, manipulating, and psychopathic religious leader. Sweetwater, The Duel, and Brimstone imply that, in settler colonial societies, religion becomes an expression of self-containment and hinders modernizing processes. It sustains the illusion of permanence and of the collective immunity to external influences. And when the order it protects comes under threat, religiously motivated violence proves to be the primary means of defense.

Corresponding author: Prof. Marek Paryż Institute of English Studies, University of Warsaw, ul. Hoza 69, 00-681 Warsaw, Poland

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Published Online: 2020-04-02
Published in Print: 2020-03-26

©2020 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston

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