(Credit: Netflix)

5 great westerns to watch on Netflix before 'The Harder They Fall'

America’s ‘Wild West’ has always been fetishised by pop culture with its rugged, daunting terrains and mystic beauty. After rising to massive heights during the early 20th century to the 1960s, the genre was furnished by luxurious pieces of art and literature, from the likes of Sergio Leone, Clint Eastwood and more.

Despite its subsequent decline in popular society, filmmakers continue to romanticise the genre and derive inspiration from it, adding their own creative products to pay homage to the wild west. 

If you are an avid western aficionado and are brooding over not being able to witness another masterpiece like The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, fret not! Netflix has an upcoming western titled The Harder They Fall that seems to be promising with a strong ensemble, stellar narrative and just the suave, stylised charm that we need. 

Directed by Jaymes Samuel, starring Idris Elba, Jonathan Majors, Delroy Lindo and Lakeith Stanfield, the film will essentially see an outlaw trying to exact revenge against his enemy after being released from prison. With formidable characters and beautiful imagery galore, the trailer looks promising and the film makes its debut on the streamer today. 

Before you watch  The Harder They Fall, check out the westerns that we at Best of Netflix have picked out as our favourites: 

5 great westerns to watch on Netflix before ‘The Harder They Fall’

5. Dances with Wolves (Kevin Costner, 1990)

The Union troupe Lieutenant John Dunbar is deemed a hero after their victory. He requests a position in the West where he befriends the native tribe and after certain life-altering experiences, begins to let go of his white man’s privilege. 

Despite having to work in extreme conditions, the crew, along with Costner, whipped up one amazing western. The cinematographer Dean Semler spoke of how Costner, as the director and actor, “never fumbled” and “knew exactly what he wanted for every scene” with unbridled confidence and a clear goal in mind.

Available: All regions

4. Concrete Cowboy (Ricky Staub, 2020)

Based on Staub and Dan Walser’s screenplay, this 2020 piece of cinema revolves around the events after 15-year-old Detroit teen Cole goes to live with his estranged father Harp in North Philadelphia. There, he comes to terms with the cowboy subculture. Furthermore, he learns more about the abject poverty, violence, gentrification and oppression that has torn through the neighbourhood.

Starring Idris Elba and Caleb McLaughlin in distinguished roles, it is a good precursor to watching Elba in action yet again. Well-stylised and nuanced, the narrative reeks of hope, loyalty and love amidst raging violence that threatens to destabilise delicate relations. 

Available: Netflix US

3. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (Ethan Coen, Joel Coen, 2018) 

A Western anthology film with six different tales of violence, gore and madness in the Wild West, the film is a quintessential Coen brothers’ flick steeped in the surreal and dark chaos, humour and frenzy of the mystic West, exploring mortality, life and more. 

The duo was unsure if they would make any of the six films and ended up combining them to make the film. Being die-hard western fans themselves, they spoke of how they “consciously” wanted to tie all the stories together to maintain coherence and focus on “death”, especially in the last story that would act as a conclusion to the epic saga.

Available: All regions

2. The Hateful Eight (Quentin Tarantino, 2015)

Although The Hateful Eight was first intended to be a sequel to Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained, the filmmaker changed his mind and created a whole new set of characters. The film deals with Samuel L. Jackson as the bounty hunter, Major Marquis Warren. On his travels, he encounters various folk on his way. During a blizzard, the tension is high, and they realise that everything is not what it seems. 

As an inflammable provocateur, Tarantino is a sucker for the Western genre. He spoke of how he incorporated the Civil War as an apocalypse in the film and heightened the feel of a “post-apocalyptic” film by incorporating the wilderness, the imagery of the “frozen wasteland” and the subsequent destruction of “every semblance of society and their way of life” amidst which “these survivors are huddled together in this pitiless wasteland shelter” while blaming one another. 

Available: All regions

1. The Outlaw Josey Wales (Clint Eastwood, 1976)

Clint Eastwood directed and played the titular character in this classic. He is an ex-Confederate guerilla war veteran who somehow forms a ragtag team of sorts while escaping the relentless pursuit of the Union soldiers and bounty hunters. 

The film was released when the genre was firmly on the decline, but that didn’t stop it from becoming an instant hit. Steeped in Civil War politics, the film is an anti-war Western. Eastwood said that the film “saw the parallels to the modern-day at that time” where people get “tired of it, but it never ends”.

Currently, this Western has been creating quite the buzz on Netflix and we can totally see why. 

Available: All regions

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