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Items | ‘Godless’ remains one of Netflix’s best miniseries

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It is undeniable to say that Western productions hold a special place in the hearts of many moviegoers. Emerging as the precursor narrative style of classic cinema, its first appearance was in the early 20th century with “The Great Train Robbery” (1903), bringing together many social types already used, reused and reinvented in the entertainment industry – be the good guy, bad guy or damsel in distress. Of course, over time, names of untold importance have established themselves as genre revolutionaries, including Clint Eastwood, John Ford, Howard Hanks and others.

In their original conception, Westerns were based on an ideology of conquest and deified mission, the explanations of which granted American settlers the right to explore the West – a concept from which the term “Wild West” originated – and to seize land belonging to them. .. to the natives. It is no coincidence that most Hollywood productions focus on celebrating American courage and heroism in the face of the bestialism and denial of civility so much advocated by the natives. Through symbolic imagery, everything was justified on the basis of racial supremacy, like it or not – and then we came to “Godless”, a Netflix miniseries that can be considered one of best ever produced by the streaming giant.

Created by the passionate mind of Scott Frank, the show offers an interesting new perspective on the genre whose endorsement has endured for years. Plots and subplots can bring in the best elements of westerns, creating a grand, mimetic and honorable compilation of earlier works, but the broad scope also serves to empower social minorities who have earned their place on the world stage. not so long ago: after all, the story revolves around the citadel of La Belle, which, after a tragic disaster at the local mine, saw its configuration changed to something strictly matriarchal and much more open, so to speak .

First, Frank is not known for his conventional stories: it’s no wonder that the opening chapter of this desert odyssey begins with complete devastation, a montage revealing a village completely destroyed and scrutinized by murdered corpses of brutal and violent way. Even the take of a child hanging from a tree provides the chaotic backdrop that features the main antagonist, outlaw Frank Griffin (Jeff Daniels) and his attempt to recover what was stolen from him by the former protege Roy Goode (Jack O’Connell). This whole sequence is taken up by a threatening and dubious fog, which enters as an archetype of language to confuse the viewer and even increase the tension of events – and perhaps most engaging in this first scene is the complete absence of lines: in a series as well articulated as this, dialogues arise when necessary, precisely so as not to become redundant with the explanation of events.

The general idea is already shown to us in this first assault; after all, we have two mortal enemies whose emotional pasts are thrown into check after an ideological conflict that goes far beyond what we know. Roy and Frank epitomize the many relationship gaps in the best father-son style – going back even to Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader in the “Star Wars” pantheon – but with an added twist. A priori, it is possible to identify the immortalized concepts of bad and good. However, as the episodes go by, this separation turns into a fusion of personalities that basically seeks acceptance and rejection of loneliness – it’s no surprise that Frank’s gang is so large: he has many first recruiting his best friend, shortly after finding the figure of the lost son in Roy then setting out to find renegades and forsaken to give them a shot at being someone – albeit in the most twisted sense possible.

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In any case, this conflict of ideals is not exactly the kind of problem that the La Belle community is looking for. After all, the peace that has always reigned in the arid land still seeks stability after an accident kills nearly all the men and forces the women, previously confined to domestic issues, to value their linear personalities and become the true rulers. Simply put, we also have two opposing forces within the village: one, represented by Michelle Dockery with an incredible country accent as the widowed Alice Fletcher; the other, by the “masculinized” and paradigm-breaking figure of Mary Agnes (Merritt Wever), who, despite her conservative values, sees in the decadence of La Belle and her brother, Sheriff Bill McNue (Scoot McNairy), the opportunity to free yourself and behave according to your free will.

Each of the chapters works like a feature film that, thanks to the dynamism of the storyline and the development of the characters, presents itself as a fluid construction pleasant to watch. The audience’s involvement with the protagonists and even with the abandoned setting is one of the main factors that allow ‘Godless’ to become the North American epic that it truly is: despite some shortcomings, mainly due to the lacking the remarkable development of the figure embodied by Dockery, all have, for the most part, a degree of intimate disagreement which renders them human and distances them from the invincible and deified mentality so much advocated by the first works of the genre.

And while I mention the cast, Thomas Brodie-Sangster is one of the biggest to remember. In addition to abandoning the adventurous ways of his performances in ‘Maze Runner’, the British actor manages to embody Deputy Sheriff Whitey Winn with an incredible naturalness that is even scary. Its stage delineations bring the best of the western to the small screen, but at the same time explore other aspects usually forgotten in odysseys, such as the impossible love between different races and the acceptance of one’s weaknesses in the face of an insurmountable obstacle to first sight.

Steven Meiszler is another name to believe. The series’ mostly clean photography speaks to Frank’s open aesthetic, especially at times when nature is towering and unshakable by human forces. In a few moments, the representation in general shots of the characters and their metaphorical monologues contradict the pictorial representation, which values ​​the solitude and the immensity of the Far West. At other times, we see the constant use of fog to cover an overexposure of events, either in its most classic form – that is, in contrast to the harsh sunlight, which is diffused by dust particles – or in a more conventional way. more symbolic – mixed with slow-motion sequence shots that play on the duality between claustrophobic and expansive.

‘Godless’ is a narrative and visual masterpiece. Even obvious flaws or long episode lengths manage to be covered by the overall scope and very well-placed details that make the series all the more likely to pay homage to the great productions of the classic western. Netflix has perhaps never been bolder than it is here – and I can say for sure it was a forehand.

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