EVERYBODY loves a cowboy.
There’s just something about the combination of Stetsons, spurs, and a steely demeanor that’s charmed film buffs and TV junkies around the world for decades.
“I love Westerns as an immigrant,” says Tomasz Warchol, founder of local film organization CinemaSavannah.
“To me, it’s a lot of American mythology; as a genre, it’s uniquely American. I have this nostalgic kind of attachment about it.”
Speaking as both a curator of interesting films and a huge fan of the genre, Warchol is excited to bring The Salvation, a 2014 Danish Western-Drama, to Savannah.
To Warchol, the allure of Westerns resides in the particular blend of minimalism laced with classic archetypes and elements of Greek tragedy.
“It reveals universal moral/ethical questions through a most fundamental conflict between good and evil, man and nature, individual and society, civilization and wilderness, all set against a historical background of the American West experience,” he admires. “To me, the ‘Western’ mythos, like no other convention, captures the essential archetypal human experience.”
“It’s very engaging ,and kind of cathartic,” he observes. “And I guess I just love that American frontier, that individualism. I have all of those very elemental associations, very essential associations with the American psyche.”
While the Western certainly is a staple of American culture, the genre has been picked up internationally; there are Australian, Japanese, and Korean versions, “Curry Westerns” (Spaghetti Western through an Indian lens), and even “Meat pie Westerns,” which typically take place in the Australian Outback.
“[The Salvation] is apparently a tribute to the kind of the very basic, very fundamental conventions of the Western.” says Warchol. “And it’s Danish!”
The Salvation whisks audiences away to the Wild West circa 1870, where many Danish soldiers traveled in search of a new life after the Second Schleswig War. When a peaceful settler’s family is murdered, he slays the killer, enraging a notorious gang leader.
Betrayed by his fellow settlers, it’s up to our hero to take down the bad guys singlehandedly.
An established master of psychological cinema, director Kristian Levring is sure to have crafted a fresh approach to the timeless genre.
“She’s engaging both dramatically and emotionally,” Warchol praises.
Mads Mikkelsen, one of Warchol’s favorite actors, leads a stellar cast—you may recognize him as the villain in Casino Royale or, most recently, as the “bitch” accountant in Rhianna’s polarizing “Bitch Better Have My Money” music video.
Warchol recommends Mikkelsen’s performances in After the Wedding, Open Heart, and 2012’s Oscar-nominated The Hunt to appreciate his range as an actor, and looks forward to seeing him in the rogue hero role of John Jensen.
Eva Green stars as the widowed sister-in-law of the evil gang leader; she’s a familiar face who co-starred with Mikkelsen in Casino Royale.
Warchol says the cinematography is sure to be a treat, as well, having been breathtakingly shot in South Africa.
“We’ll see if it plays with tradition and convention,” he says. “I’m interested in how it engages, or how it adapts, the Spaghetti Western.”
Thrill seekers, take heed: The Salvation is a ride of pure adrenaline, replete with action and edge-of-your-seat adventure.
“It should be straightforward entertainment,” says Warchol. “Not everything is going to be black and white, like in those old Westerns! But the emotions will be very powerful and dramatic.”
“The conflict will be very visceral,” he says. “I think that audiences will be immediately pulled in, and they’ll go and be taken for a ride that may bring them a little ease of some of their tensions or their own frustrations. I always feel like movies can kind of help us psychologically and emotionally.”
No need to wait for the dust to settle: it’s a movie marathon at Muse, with Sleaze-O-Rama following The Salvation on Saturday. Grab some popcorn at the counter and saddle up for a rollicking weekend!