Cowboys & Aliens presented an opportunity for Jon Favreau to do something he had longed to do; direct a classic Western, in a time when audience appetites are geared towards sci-fi and fantasy films in general, and alien-invasion films specifically.
Cowboys & Aliens does not “go for the easy joke” that many filmmakers would have been tempted to go for with this particular brand of genre mash-up, however.“You can work in humor” Favreau explains (and we assure you that the humor will be present), but “in the way that the old Westerns did; a little bit here, a character actor there – but really at its core, like the John Ford films, which were unflinching in what the main characters are up against.”
Cowboys & Aliens emphasizes character, and as such, the actors “all played it straight.” The film does not “back-off of the Western genre”, and as Favreau says “young it up”, in a way that degrades the particular beauty of the style.
Rather, by drawing on films like The Magnificent Seven (and Kurosawa’s prior film, Seven Samurai), Stagecoach, She Wore A Yellow Ribbon, High Planes Drifter and The Professionals, this film embraces the genre, approaching it with a sensibility that is simultaneously modern and faithful in tone to the classic Western.
Cowboys And Aliens will be one of the only summer event films of 2011 that was neither shot in 3D, or converted to 3D in post-production. It was shot 35mm anamorphic, in the vein of a traditional Western, by the phenomenally talented cinematographer Matthew Libatique (Iron Man, The Fountain, Black Swan), giving the film an organic quality that audiences will (hopefully) be thirsty for.
Favreau was able to go straight to the source, executive producer Steven Spielberg, to explore some of the late 1970s/1980s science fiction movies that he used as both template and inspiration for this movie. Films like Close Encounters Of The Third Kind, Alien/Aliens, E.T and even Jaws. Science fiction that, often by necessity, invited the audience members to participate in the storytelling by actively engaging their imaginations.
These films relied on the imaginations of viewers to fill in the blanks that were left by the technological limitations of the day. What many of us have come to realize since that time is that our individual fears will, more often than not, serve the emotional current of a film far more than overblown CGI ever could. Though, as you can see, there will certainly be plenty of action available in Cowboys & Aliens.
The teaser illustrates how beautifully the classic Western style blends with the particular brand of sci-fi this film will be expressing.
As far as the Cowboys & Aliens are concerned, as Favreau says, “they (the aliens) didn’t know they were coming to the old-west, and they (the cowboys) didn’t know there were aliens coming – they were both coming from their own place.”
We believe the two worlds will seamlessly collide, come summer 2011.
In addition to the trailer release today, the first Cowboys & Aliens teaser poster debuted on Yahoo on Monday morning and we have it for you below.
Poster source: Yahoo! Movies.
Here is the official synopsis for the film:
1873. Arizona Territory. A stranger (Daniel Craig) with no memory of his past stumbles into the hard desert town of Absolution. The only hint to his history is a mysterious shackle that encircles one wrist. What he discovers is that the people of Absolution don’t welcome strangers, and nobody makes a move on its streets unless ordered to do so by the iron-fisted Colonel Dolarhyde (Harrison Ford). It’s a town that lives in fear.
But Absolution is about to experience fear it can scarcely comprehend as the desolate city is attacked by marauders from the sky. Screaming down with breathtaking velocity and blinding lights to abduct the helpless one by one, these monsters challenge everything the residents have ever known.
Now, the stranger they rejected is their only hope for salvation. As this gunslinger slowly starts to remember who he is and where he’s been, he realizes he holds a secret that could give the town a fighting chance against the alien force. With the help of the elusive traveler Ella (Olivia Wilde), he pulls together a posse comprised of former opponents—townsfolk, Dolarhyde and his boys, outlaws and Apache warriors—all in danger of annihilation. United against a common enemy, they will prepare for an epic showdown for survival.
We look forward to bringing you further details from our incredible edit bay visit – in the coming weeks. In the interim, we will keep you up to date as new images, trailers and clips become available.
Cowboys & Aliens has a powerhouse team of Hollywood heavy-hitters behind it; starring Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford, written and produced by Alex Kurtzman & Roberto Orci (Star Trek) and Damon Lindelof (television’s Lost); produced by Ron Howard and Brian Grazer, with executive producers Steven Spielberg and Denis L. Stewart.
Cowboys & Aliens is scheduled for release on July 29th, 2011.
The trailer will also be appearing in theaters, beginning this weekend with Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows: Part 1.