The opportunity of a Western is that it takes issues of our culture—conflict, racial conflict, economic injustice, what is good, what is evil, what is murder, what is justified—and it puts them in a fantastical landscape that allows us, very much like science fiction does, to see these issues in a way that we're free of our own . . . loyalties. I'm in a world where I don't have any immediate identifiable [unintelligible], so I'm forced to look at the issues and the themes underneath them from a new perspective.
—Director James Mangold, in a making-of segment ("An Epic Explored") for the 2007 version of 3:10 to Yuma
(I'm not sure what that garbled word was. Maybe "likeness"?)
. . . But then he goes on to say "There is no such thing as a Western being overblown, because it's a fiction. There is no such thing as a Western, or any morality tale, being distorted, because it's never based on fact." Feh. So much for verisimilitude.
But I guess his point is really that we shouldn't get hung up on details (like "that stagecoach wouldn't flip over like that") in movies that are intended to be entertaining. Fair enough.
Still, there's a lot of entertaining stuff that does manage to largely achieve verisimilitude, or at least suspension of disbelief.
Anyway, all of that is a side note; the main reason I'm posting is that I thought his comparison of Westerns and science fiction was interesting.