Sisyphus on horseback: Landscape allegory in the postwar Western

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This article locates a psychological mobilization of natural settings in the post-war Westerns Duel in the Sun, Lonely Are the Brave, and Man in the Wilderness, which I refer to as ‘Sisyphean’ landscape allegory. This narrative of inner conflict is not only expressed through an inhospitable terrain per se, but also through the protagonist’s physical attempts to navigate and/or overcome it as a primary obsta-cle. I argue that the existential sense of futility these films invoke through their Sisyphean sequences serves to corroborate audience angst rather than to assuage it. At the same time, the larger therapeutic agenda of these films for American audiences varied according to their cultural milieu.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)123-136
Number of pages14
JournalEuropean Journal of American Culture
Issue number2-3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2023

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