by Peter Rasmussen

Deadwood is fantastic!

Posted by Peter Rasmussen on March 6, 2007

Deadwood is a HBO serais out on DVD starring Timothy Olyphant as Seth Bullock and Ian McShane as Al Swearengen who was also in the excellent English film “Sexy Beast”.

I’ve never been fond of westerns. But Deadwood does amazing things with the genre. The profanity keeps coming like waves on a beach. I’ve never heard it used in such a poetic way. How can such questionable and ruthless characters be so sympathetic? It seems to lie in them being so full of vulnerability and contradictions.

How can characters be so much at odds that they might kill each other one moment and then the next be allies and I still believe it? It’s like a war zone. Anyone can die at any time. There’s a delicate balance of power. It verges on melodrama in the sheer quantity of death and mayhem but it has an authenticity and a truth to it.

One of the reasons I’m drawn to it is that it is set in a “fantastic” world. There a many well-written dramas set in the present day. They take on issues that are in the news. They often do this in a sophisticated complex way that does justice to the issue. But this is in danger of becoming a dramatised doco.

Deadwood has some real people and events from history like Wild Bill Hickok. But it uses them to create a world where anything can happen. When you set something in a fantasy world you are not forced to take it so literally. You can get closer to the pure forces that drive these characters. I believe this has the potential to give you access to the more intangible qualities of these kinds of characters.


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