The Hero and the Grave

The Theme of Death in the Films of John Ford, Akira Kurosawa and Sergio Leone


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About the Book

The theme of death is an essential component of film narrative, particularly in how it affects the hero. Filmmakers from different cultures and backgrounds have developed distinct yet archetypal perspectives on death and the protagonist’s response. Focusing on Western and Japanese period genre films, the author examines the work of John Ford (1894–1973), Akira Kurosawa (1910–1998) and Sergio Leone (1929–1989) and finds similarities regarding death’s impact on the hero’s sense of morality.

About the Author(s)

Alireza Vahdani is a film analyst and fiction writer. His research interests includes American and Japanese period films.

Bibliographic Details

Alireza Vahdani

Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 175
Bibliographic Info: notes, bibliography, filmography, index
Copyright Date: 2018
pISBN: 978-1-4766-6410-1
eISBN: 978-1-4766-3354-1
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments  vi
Introduction  1

Part One—Fundamental Functions of Death Within the Narrative
1. Romantic Involvement and Redemption  28
2. The Cycle of Life  37
3. The Cult of Death  48

Part Two—The Hero’s Position and the Theme of Death in Battle
4. Death, Personal Conflict and Battle  62
5. Death, Group Conflict and Battle  72
6. Death, External Conflict and Battle  81

Part Three—Narrative Attitude Toward the Hero’s Suicide
7. Suicide and Redemption  94
8. Suicide and Despair  109

Part Four—The Hero’s Natural Death: Narrating the Past and the Way of the Future
9. Natural Death in Ford’s Narrative  122
10. Natural Death in Kurosawa’s Narrative  134
11. Natural Death in Leone’s Narrative  142

Conclusion  145
Chapter Notes  157
Bibliography  159
Filmography  163
Index  165