My Kind of Movies

I have figured out a certain type of movies I like, but I don't think these movies fit into an existing genre, so I have invented my own. For lack of a more succinct term, I call it "movies about a dying way of life." It focuses on people who are part of a vocation or culture that they can see is giving way to changing times. Many of these movies might be called Westerns, but they're not of the Main Street showdown variety (although one movie in my genre has such a scene). It's just that, in the US, the West is the best example of a place that changed with the times, and took a lot of people with it. You could almost call this genre "Indian movies," as many, but not all, films in this genre deal with them. I can identify with these movies because I appreciate the romantic ideal of hardy people living in a sparsely populated, wide open, untouched land. While I appreciate the people depicted in these movies, it is clear that it was inevitable that their ways of life would disappear as time moved on and technology passed them by.

Here are some archetypical movies in the genre:
  • Dances with Wolves - disappearance of the Plains' Indian lifestyle
  • Open Range - disappearance of the open-range ranching lifestyle
  • Last of the Mohicans - end of a particular Indian tribe
  • Jeremiah Johnson - the end of the mountain man lifestyle
  • The Last Samurai - end of the samurai lifestyle; this one gives my genre some breadth
I'd be interested to know if a) you can think of any movies to add to my list, and b) if this genre already exists, and I'm not breaking new ground.


  1. Hmm. I don't know if this fits at all, but the first thing I thought of was the show Mad Men. It's about a disappearing way of life in that it shows the status quo of the 1950s and before getting upset by 60s craziness. In particular, it's about the shift from When Men Ruled the World to one where the relationship between men and women started getting more contested and uncertain.

    That's the only example I can think of right now.

  2. Avalon comes to mind. This movie shows the shift from the strong patriarchal immigrant extended family to the more nuclear individual family. Two scenes come to mind; the one Thanksgiving where every cousin, Aunt and Uncle wait patiently for the head of the family to arrive to cut the turkey so dinner can officially begin; contrasted sharply to the scene where the son's family some years later eats TV dinners on folding tables in front of, what else, the TV! It is a wonderfully bittersweet story told with a subtle humor. I highly recommend it.

  3. Yeah, MacKenzie is that a great line or what?!

    Another movie to consider is Sandlot. It doesn't explicitly depict the end of the neighborhood gang as an entity all unto its own; with its own set of rules and protocol between kids and being able to play all summer long with no adult supervision (who woulda thunk it!!) but as the movie ends you can't help think that kids aren't much allowed to do that in today's planned, canned, appointed culture.

  4. All of the films you've listed actually fall within the Western genre, since, from the early days of film, the central theme of a Western became the conflict between civilized order and the lawless frontier. Another film you might want to add to this list is Lonely Are the Brave (1962). But this genre could also include ... Read MoreThe Last Samurai (2003), which is a Japanese twist on the Western genre. Additionally, most genres tend to also have sub-genres and, in fact, most non-formulaic films fall within multiple genres. With that being the case, you could also include within your "end of an era" or "disappearing way of life" list the following titles: Sunset Boulevard (1950), Modern Times (1936)...(I include this film for several reasons), Giant (1956), Pleasantville (1998), and The Last Picture Show (1971). More films exist that fit within this category, but I can't think of their titles at the moment, so I'll have to get back to you with a more detailed list.