Last weekend I sat down to watch The Magnificent Seven. I then sat down to pen my meditation on why I stopped writing for a whole month. If not for this movie, I would not know what to write about today. It's effect is still reverberating in my mind for one reason and one reason only.
Until western men return to honor & virtue, there will be no saving The West.
Being a Man is a simple thing. It really is.
Wisdom. Justice. Fortitude. Temperance.
These are the four chief virtues (as quoted in the movie Gladiator) of Man.
What we see in this scene is a distillation of these virtuous essences of masculinity.
Wisdom - the ability to see the truth and find practical solutions to every day problems.
Justice - knowledge of right and wrong and the clarity and purpose that this knowledge inspires when an injustice is being committed.
Fortitude - Courage. Bravery. Endurance. There are many synonyms for fortitude. Yet, the heart of it comes down to what is the essence of a patriarchy and a patriarchal Man - moral fiber. That inner spirit and will to seek wisdom in order to do justice when both are plain to see.
Temperance - Moderation. Self-restraint. Sobriety. A life lived walking the mean, the middle path, and not being pulled or beset by extremes that lead to error in judgement and action.
All of these attributes of masculine virtue are on display in this simple scene.
A moral injustice is before us, plainly stated, simple in its clear definition. A dead man is ignored like an animal, roadkill, lying on an open street. A good man of moral rectitude steps up to do the right thing and see to it he is buried. His race is irrelevant and still is even in today's highly charged immigrant crisis in The West. This man must be buried. Racial prejudice is the barrier. Someone needs to step up and do the "dirty work" of seeing justice - the moral and right thing - done.
It is a very simple, almost too simple, moral scene. Yet, because modern Western culture is now wholly amoral, the scene literally slaps you on the face with the obvious conclusion as to what a Man, and thus masculinity, is.
A Man, capital M, is defined by nothing more or less than one who does the right thing when no other man will.
This is why when the funeral owner cries in fear about damage to his carriage/hearse, the other men (for whatever reason) who could not or would not do the deed all step up to support the two men who will. I also want you to observe how old school this film is in making these traits absolutely jump off the screen and into your mind as you watch this scene.
The steady shot.
While this is more of a technical limitation of the time, there is a magnification of message in it's simplicity. I believe Francis Ford Coppola was famous for this technique as well. The reason a director is confident in a steady shot to tell story is because he knows he has his message on screen. In the setting, the acting and the dialogue (or lack of it). There is no need to be fancy and "make it cool" to make the audience place themselves in the imaginary context presented to them. All the cues necessary to tell the story are contained within the shot.
Simple, unadorned, blunt (yet polite) dialogue - i.e. human dialogue.
"Oh hell. If that's all that is holding things up, I'll drive the rig."
This is not a "line." It is simply what any self-respecting man who can see a job needs doing would say. Man by his nature is an impatient creature that must learn patience. That impatience comes from his nature - that of being a simple creature. It is why men (those with balls and testosterone anyway) have zero patience for bullshit and the whining and indecisiveness of both women and men.
There are truly so few words spoken in this movie. A scene where Yul' Brynner's character is asked where he is from is communicated with a simple "back there" gesture of the thumb pointing behind his back. And again when asked "Where are you headed?" he simply points, in the same calm, collected motion of his hand to the prior question, with a finger straight out in front of him pointing ahead.
There is absolutely NOTHING fancy, flashy or stylish about this movie.
Nothing at all. And therein lies the very heart of the problem western Red Pill men are drowning in - trying to be fancy boys acting like real men.
Denzel Washington is one of my favorite actors. Sadly, he (all the men in this horrific remake) was cast into a roll that he should never have been asked to play. No, it is not because he is incapable of playing a cowboy in the American West because he is black, but because the entire concept for the film was to rectify the lack of diversity in the original.
Fuqua worked to create a diverse cast by incorporating actors of color such as African-American Denzel Washington, Korean Lee Byung-hun and Mexican Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, and making sure the lead female Emma Cullen (Haley Bennett) did not conform to stereotypes.
When Fuqua met studio executives to see possible actors for the film, he saw that they were all white. He found this to be problematic and instead wanted to make the cast diverse, so that audiences could identify with more of the characters.
Wikipedia - The Magnificent Seven (2016 film)
The 2016 remake is a film wholly & utterly gutted of character and depth, chained and restrained from actually telling a compelling story. In our current climate in Hollywood, there is NO STORY if there is no diversity and identity politics. Thus, the resonance on screen the audience is to identify with is not the actors or the dialogue, but what the skin colour or race on screen is communicating. I say this despite it being directed by the excellent Antoine Fuqua who also gave us Washington/Hawk in Training Day.
This is the sad reality of story telling today. Fuqua could have instead tried to craft a NEW story, an ORIGINAL narrative around the "reality" he says was the real diversity of the American West in the late 18th/early 19th century the Seven was set in. He does not. He instead steals from an already established cultural lodestone in cinema and tries to recast and revision what was - feminism/cultural Marxism to the core.
There is thus no character, no depth, no human emotional resonance with a cast and story that is based on selling the audience a message of politics, not truth. How do you cover up this politically correct theft of prior creative genius?
How many fast cuts were there in this scene?
How many times did they shoot to get just the right amount of smoke to swirl around Chris Pratt's head?
Did we need the tight shots of "eyes of ill intent?" Of guns "at the ready?" What about the free wheeling "cool" of Denzel returning his super shiny silver revolver back to its holster?
What I am saying is...
How much of this entire scene's "punch" and "emotion" is driven NOT be the men in the scene, but by the camera, the
cool trying-too-hard-to-be-cool dialogue and fancy pantsy gun play?
I whispered in his ear.
Can you see Yul, or Steve, ever being able to utter such a preposterous line? Let alone taking it further (the line itself is not terrible terrible) and then actually trying to do some kind of cool whisper in the ear bullshit before killing the man you are talking to?
This is the root malaise of men in The West - we are all trying to ACT like men, instead of simply BEING men.
James Coburn, as with all the men in this film, were each given distinctive personalities and characters to play. This is why the steady shot and simple cuts work so effortlessly to communicate the masculinty on the screen instead of trying to juice it up with lighting, fancy camera work and Guy Ritchie-esque masculine "cool" dialogue.
During the late 1960s and early 1970s, Coburn cultivated an image synonymous with "cool" and, along with such contemporaries as Lee Marvin, Steve McQueen, and Charles Bronson, became one of the prominent "tough-guy" actors of his day.
Wikipedia - James Coburn
Synonymous with "cool."
What is the cool of masculinity in this scene?
Wisdom - a Man who knows his own truth, the fastest knife in The West and no need to make that knife flashy, big or "awesome" to prove it to any man when challenged (up to a point where the antagonist insists on being shown how wrong he is).
Justice - A Man is dealt that which he asked for and deserves, with no fanfare or arrogant & pompous posturing. He challenged a man faster with a knife on the draw than a gun. There is zero attempt to make this even remotely cool. In fact, I would say the coldness with which Coburn's characer deals out death to a man who asked for it is precisely why this scene resonates so powerfully (and again, note the emotional tension on screen with the simple steady locked shots). Coburn is not even trying to be cool (as the men of the silent generation understood it). He was simply being a Man placed in the context of brutal survival in the lawless frontier.
Fortitude - When he decides to re-do this man's challenge to a dual for a 2nd time, he simply gets up, walks smartly over to his draw point, and waits for his combatant to stand in his. No words. No ego posturing. You can sense an almost impatient frustration to even having to bother and just wanting to brush this fly of a wanna-be-man off his face and get on with his life.
Temperance - No outrage when insulted. No anger or rage in being disturbed by an imbecile. No whiny and womanly comebacks or quips. The look on Coburn's face when he lifts his cowboy hat... says it all. "All right, you asked for it. I'm prepared to die, are you?"
Which is where the 2016 remake gets it all wrong.
This is the equivalent character introduction to Coburn - Billy Rocks (WTF kind of name is this? Seriously? FFS).
Instead of actually playing to his diverse casting's common humanity with all races, Fuqua typecasts and misrepresents Asian's in The West completely. Of course the "Asian" would not use his guns. He would be a "ninja" and pull a bloody Asian hair pin out of his head!
Where is the moral setup? The challenge to a Man's self-respect?
There is none, at least nothing that one would not also find on an elementary school yard, not the real world of adult men.
The 2016 writers had to go gutter and resort to foul language for the antagonist to try to get a "reaction" from Billy and inspire the corresponding emotional reaction in the audience - i.e. the emotional response of a child to a "your mama" style of insult. They had to go low because there is no higher purpose to this scene. The entire setup to this important character's introduction is literally a cut-a-way shot to a gun dual, that's it. This is clear as Pratt's character is clearly being introduced to Rocks for the first time. There is no moral story here. Just a "manly" gun dual and all the sunsets and wind machines necessary to try and fake a masculine cool-guy stand off.
Contrast this with Coburn's knife dual in broad daylight - it is purely a direct challenge to masculine self-respect. The scene begins with a setup that Coburn's character is faster with a knife on the draw than a gun (not once established for the combatant to Billy Rocks) and can kill you with it. This is what just happened prior to the clip above and why his antagonist asks him to say "he lost" when he knows he did not. This is a direct challenge to the pinnacle of masculine self-respect - confidence and winning. I.e. "I challenge you on your quality as a Man of talent, on your dignity as a man who is willing to stand up for himself, on your honesty as a man of virtue who speaks only the truth before other men. All of this is completely missing from Fuqua's version and the tone, the seriousness, of the original is palpable when directly compared to this shallow remake of the same scene.
There is none of this emotional/masculine setup in the 2016 version. Just a straight cut to a "scene" of a gun "dual" between two "dudes" that revolves around no stakes higher than simply winning or losing a gambler's bet.
In contrast, Coburn's scene was about what a man is known to be capable of doing (and is implied in the setup of the scene as his reputation). It is a direct challenge to status and reputation - core aspects of every man's lived reality with other men in society.
Was it "cool" for Rocks to drop his gun and keep hidden the blade in his hair he was going to kill the man with? It's not what his antagonist was expecting, nor the audience. The setup was a gun dual, NOT a knife fight. So already, we have falsehood, trickery, deceit on the part of the "good guy." Would the antagonist have continued knowing Rocks was never going to go for his gun on the ground? What we have in this scene is cool for the sake of cool - all flash, no substance and thus no honest portrayal of masculinity. The wind machines in Billy Rocks hair in the close up after the kill is a "cool" touch, but it proves and makes my point crystal clear.
Billy Rocks tries to hard to be "a man" and looks ridiculous doing it, the very opposite of cool, of masculine.
And this is precisely the Western male today.
Trying too hard. Looking ridiculous. Not cool, at all.
Does this mean that a director can't "mix it up" with a Western cowboy story, use the latest in camera shots and stunt trickery to tell a "new story" of the Magnificent Seven?
Sure... as long as he strove to keep the moral and noble aspects of Man and masculinity that in turn was inspired by Akira Kurosawa's Seven Samurai. This was the entire focus and locus for John Sturges and Yul Brynner (who also tried to bring the adaptation to a Western context). Bushido is a warrior code of honor and masculine ideals for men of war to strive for. The direct analogy to the Wild West and the gunfighter was clear, but it seems this aspect of the core of the films original theme and genesis was entirely missed by Fuqua and the writers of the 2016 remake. Which is to say, it is instead very modern and atheist/amoral/feminist in it's main theme for a remake of an "old school" style of film.
"Money for blood".
Yes... Brynner and McQueen were playing gunfighters for hire. Men hired (i.e. money) to spill blood.
But the tone is one that is bright, light, uplifting and, most importantly... ennobling of the Seven.
I have been offered a lot for my work, but never everything.
Perhaps I am being to quick to judge Fuqua's remake, having not seen it (and having no real desire with the few clips I have seen), but I think it is safe to say there are almost no lines in the film that pack as much metaphysical and religious moral weight as this one line from Brynner when asked by the Mexican farmers to help them rid their village of a local bandit who preys on them.
He has taken "money for blood" before, but it was clearly from a very different kind of paying customer for a very different kind of reason.
Here, he is being offered all an entire village of poor farmers has. And with such an offer, the moral weight, the inward intent to do what is right & honorable by these simple men is made clear to him. This is not a typical gun hire. He knows there is no real reward (financial) in taking on this job. But, he is being offered an ennobling path, the path of the hero archetype (now highlighting primarily the heroine, displacing the masculine entirely on Wikipedia).
What I also want you to note about this scene is that with the most subtle of expression in acting despite sparse dialogue, it is clearly communicated that Brynner's character is not necessarily a "good" man. That his profession does have the taint of the darker side of Man and his world without having to actually show it or say it. This is key. So much of the original film's power is communicated indirectly, whereas the latter has to literally shove it all in your face to "get" the story and characters.
Yet... we also see the other side, the higher side, the divine in Man. That which calls all men "to be good."
MEXICAN FARMER: It won't be hard to find men here. Everyone wears a gun.
ADAMS: Sure. Same as they were pants! That's expected. But good men? That's something else again.
Once again, the soul and root of Man is to strive to be a good (i.e. moral) Man.
There is nothing else.
While the story moves on and shows Chris Adams (Brynner) is talking about men good with a gun, you simply cannot escape the moral tone implied in the line "good men." We are talking about honor. About virtue. About the higher and noble aspects of man.
Go back up and watch that clip of "Blood for money" from the 2016 remake.
Do you get this sense at all?
Am I being once again to harsh of Fuqua's direction, or the writer's trying to "update" a classic?
All I get from the 2016 film, from the few scenes I have watched, is that western men of the 21st century are far, far, far too hung up on their egos and not nearly humble enough to respect the divine within as the driving source of what makes them men.
And you'll be murdered... by the world's greatest lover.
This... was Pratt's "cool" line in a Seven's shootout. Pussy worship is real in western men, and it's killing their masculinity
Again I ask you... can you see Steve McQueen even being able to fake such a shit line as that?
Murder. One of the 10 Commandments of God Man is to abstain from entirely. Apparently, that is the "magnificent" goal of this ambush... and it is an ambush for the pure intent to kill.
We have 5 full minutes of setup to this confrontation with the "bad guys" of the film and there is nothing higher or noble in purpose in this scene, or these characters. All we get the sense is... the "good guys" are... wait for it... "badass," have cool lines (and lots of Asian ninja knives!!!), and are wholly intent on killing every man in front of them without mercy. There is no sense at all of giving these men a chance to actually live. To turn back and simply leave town with no fighting necessary. In fact, this seems to be the classic feminist troupe of masculinity and men - this scene is nothing but a dick measuring contest. A contest to see whose dick will own the town and it's inhabitants. Violence is not only an option, it is the only way forward for all the men in the scene, even the "good guys."
Contrast this with the equivalent confrontation (not ambush) in the original.
They're won't be any trouble... if you ride on.
Again. The simplicity of the dialogue is absolutely pregnant with depth and underlying subtext.
Note as well... this entire confrontation takes place in less than half the screen time, a mere 2:40.
I'm going to the hills for the winter. Where am I going to get the food for my men?
Buy it or grow it!
Or maybe even work for it!
These lines, with the prior "We come cheaper by the bunch!" all imply not just a moral message, but a message of higher purpose for why these Seven are fighting.
None of this higher purpose is communicated directly by the 2016 Seven to their enemies. It is implied they are on a "noble mission" in prior narrative leading up to the confrontation, but the confrontation itself is 100% male ego dick swinging and posturing.
"But, you don't have to literally tell the bad guy why he is bad and you are good. That's just bad story telling isn't?"
You would be correct except for WHY the original Seven were telling Calvera why his men must leave. They were making it clear - he was in the wrong, they were in the right. Thus, for justice and for his own life, he should yield to both and "ride on." There are no dicks being swung in the 1960 Seven except in ONE line by McQueen in response to the bandit Calvera saying their answers of an honest way to earn the bread he is to eat to survive does not solve (for him) the problem of his starving men.
BRYNNER: Solving your [Calvera's] problems isn't our line [of work, why we are getting paid].
MCQUEEN: We deal in lead friend.
We deal in lead friend.
McQueen's face, his tone, his simple communication of the seriousness of the situation, NOT about whose dick is the biggest, is why the original Magnificent Seven is the only film you will ever need to watch to learn the core truth about masculinity and Man, capital M.
To be a Man, is to accept and deal with the seriousness of being one - to either be a man of honor and virtue, or one of greed and ego.
That's the showdown in the original. The 2016 version is all about whose badder.
Which is why it is so pivotal to masculinity and it's expression that the original gives Calvera and his bandits the choice to "ride on." To become better men themselves or simply seek other sheep to shear now that these ones (the Mexican farmers) have good shepherds to protect them.
Yes, the Bible, God's justice and the entirety of the Christian moral ethos and tradition is clearly invoked in this scene when Calvera says...
Can men of our profession [gunfighters for hire] be worried about that [the plight and lot of poor, weak and defenceless farmers].
If God did not want them sheared, he would not have made the sheep.
Remember... there is only two minutes and forty seconds of dialogue in this scene!
How much is being communicated in subtext again with such simplicity in dialogue?
- God's moral truth and justice
- the division of classes, the rich and the poor
- might makes right, force as rule and law for men
- that all men can be bought, that even the Seven have a price (as all men are corrupt)
- the poor, the downtrodden, the weak have no place in the world other than to be dominated and subject to oppression by men willing to use force to get what they want
What is Brynner's response to sell out the farmers and take what a "real man" can by force from the weak?
He does not draw his gun. He repeats to Calvera once again that he has a choice to choose to be a good man. Or at least leave these poor farmers alone. He does not have to die, he just has to ride on.
Virtue - the good man - is the highest and noblest aim of his existence and for which he was created.
None of this... none of it... is in the 2016 version.
The ending scene of the original is again, sparse and simple in its deeper meaning.
CALVERA: You came back, to a place like this. Why? A man like you... why?
And the villain of the movie dies. Now, all we have for dialogue to communicate subtext is a single word!
Why did the original Seven come back after being betrayed by the farmers and being let go by Calvera - alive?
For something Calvera has never known and never will, which is why he is so stupified and stunned by the return of the Seven to defeat him.
Personal & divine justice.
Nobody throws me my own gun and says run. Nobody.
Coburn's character is once again given some of the most masculine lines in the entire film.
All that matters to a Man is his personal honor and justice - for himself and for others.
While the 1960s saw the true collapse of the Christian moral code of honor and justice in The West, it was still very much alive for the Silent Generation, the generation of men to have been born in the wake of the horror of the First World War, only to enlist and fight in the Second (as both McQueen and Bronson did).
The final gun fight against Calvera is riveting. I could not figure out why, but watching it now again (to get Coburn's line above), it is clear now why.
These are all men, a whole generation, who know what real war is like. The entire gunfight has a sense of desperation to it. Real death sings with every bullet that flies.
There is no heroics, no flash, no grand standing.
Run. Gun. Get the job done and hope you are still alive at the end of it.
Contrast this with the ending of the 2016 version my a generation of men who have never known real war.
Violence... for the sake of it, for the "glory" of it, for the ego of it.
A man is pushed beyond the depths and embraces his darkest nature.
God - Christianity - is shown to be the source of it all. The violence of Man is because he is a Christian and thus a hypocrite for not being perfect, as opposed to simply being human but one who turns and strives to become like the image of God in spite of his corrupt nature.
In the end... a woman save's the hero. No more stereotypes here. Women are strong, masculine and above all... capable of the same violence as men.
A stark contrast to how women - and one woman, the love interest - was portrayed in the original.
The stark polarity of the masculine and the feminine in this ONE scene is the reason the original had to be remade, like they are doing all the old classics. You can't have love, beauty and hope for peace in the world anymore. Especially between men and women of heterosexual orientation toward family formation (and especially if they are white!)
We are constantly being told by our intellectual and virtue signalling "betters" we now live in a world devoid of such states of grace. If there is any truth to this leftist propaganda, it is thanks to western men refusing to return to virtue and honor. To walking the path of a good man, not an alpha male.
Watching the original leaves you uplifted, inspired and thinking, believing, the world can be made a better place... if good men are out there willing to risk life and limb to make it so.
The remake... is dark, violent and ultimately nihilist in it's depressive perspective on the ultimate purpose and conclusion of what a Man is - a violent murdering psychopath hell bent on revenge, not justice and peace
Whatever they were in life, here, at the end, each man stood with courage and honor.
They fought for for the ones who couldn't fight for themselves. And they died for them too.
All to win something that didn't belong to them.
It was... magnificent.
This is the speech given by the clear female and feminine perspective of what a Man is.
His magnificent ego.
How can I say this?
When you have to actually TELL the audience what the moral of the story and it's characters fates are AT THE END... you have completely FAILED to actually tell that story.
In fact... much like the virtue signalling of the diversity politics left today... it is all talk... no action. The 2016 remake is pure hypocrisy selling itself as authenticity.
There is NOTHING magnificent about the violence of men, for good or ill.
Nothing at all.
Contrast this with the originals final parting words by it's lead character in Chris Adams played by Yul Brynner.
The old man was right. Only the farmer's won.
We lost. We always lose.
In the original... the violence and the myth of the freedom loving, adventuring, gunfighting cowboy is torn apart and laid bare.
Much like Red Pill men today lusting for adventure, pussy and money in foreign lands (or at home), in the end, they have no legacy left - family, children.
Yet it is also clear that such men are needed when times are dire. So the ending, while challenging the mythos of the cowboy hero archetype also reinforces it's necessity and for such men to exist for the good of society. To stand up for justice, for what is right, because they have no skin in the game and can make a personal choice to do so for the sake of others.
In the remake... the characters have learned nothing.
They have not changed in the least, or at least that is the sense one gets. They simply ride on to more magnificent adventures in the future. Whereas the original has them ride of reflecting what their life of gunfighting has really brought them in the end.
Do you want masculine presence?
Do you want the soul of a Man, capital M?
Strive for honor. For virtue. To be a good Man in all that moral statement challenges you to be.
There is no other path.
There is no pill colour that will give you that look, that bearing, that magnetic and riveting aura when you walk into a room as every single one of the men in the 1960 version can, and still could if they were alive today.
This is still, as I finish this late on Sunday night, what stands out for me the most in the opening 10 minutes of the original and that hearse ride up to the graveyard introducing us to the two characters we will follow for the entire film.
The absolute sheer magnetism that pure masculinity can still bring to bear on the world.
Of men of virtue and honor.
Becoming alpha will not get you this.
Only becoming a Man, capital M will.
Strength & Honor
POSTSCRIPT: I just want to make a note that the 2016 remake did the best it could given the context of modern cultural Marxist identity politics that exists now in Hollywood. Christ Pratt, out of all the cast, looks like he could hold his own against Steve McQueen. What saddens me is that these great men (and women) are being forced into a rigid mold of cultural programming that is, at it's core, anti-human.
This is what cultural Marxism and feminism is.
To be human is to be moral.
To be moral is to live a life of virtue and honor.
Men. Women. Every race on the planet has this in common.
To reduce the Seven to (what looks like) violent crusaders against the hypocrisy of Christians and Christianity (what else does the ending in the church signify and communicate to the audience) is so beneath the original intention and purpose of the film is appalling to me.
This is also all we can expect out of Hollywood from now on.
Go get the original and watch if if you have not already. I promise you... if you compare the first 10 min of both films, you will be as blown away as I was at how far storytelling of what it means to be human has been cast aside by the very medium that is tailor made to tell them the best.