Napoleon Dynamite & the Neo-Western Film

10 Sep

One film that doesn’t come up frequently in discussions of neo-Westerns is Jared Hess’ low-budget cult-classic debut, Napoleon Dynamite, released in 2004. While Napoleon Dynamite is a comedy, it’s also constructed on the foundation of the Western genre: set in the West and full of nods to the genre conventions, most directly Napoleon’s brother Kip riding off into the sunset on a horse in the film’s closing moments.

In case you haven’t seen the film, or haven’t thought much about it since seeing it, a nice brief reprise of it with a link to a fine Western Historical Quarterly article about it, reminds me of how much the film is, as author Dustin Luke Nelson notes above, a Western. The major Western element he fails to note is the film’s underlying Mormon cultural context. (My American West class of the mid-2000s loved the film and needed no persuading that it was a neo-Western.) Find the JSTOR Daily post by Nelson, with an article link, here: Napoleon Dynamite & the Neo-Western Film | JSTOR Daily


One Response to “Napoleon Dynamite & the Neo-Western Film”

  1. Anna Elisabeth Carter November 17, 2015 at 12:27 pm #

    Buffalo Doug, I love this post and the fond memories it brought back from our class and the time we gathered together to watch Napoleon Dynamite!

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