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Video Highlights SERENITY’s Defining Sci-Fi and Western-Genre Characteristics

The space Western genre is synonymous with Joss Whedon‘s short-lived television series, Firefly, and the underrated film based on that series, Serenity. As a Western set in space, Serenity goes beyond merely shooting guns on a spacecraft or shouting ‘Yee-Haw’ excessively. The video above from The Digging Deeper channel on YouTube convincingly highlights the many mannerisms from classic Western films that Whedon blended with mannerisms from the sci-fi genre, creating his one-of-a-kind vision.

Serenity was shot with a finesse evocative of the great Western flicks of the 1900s. Wide-angles of the landscape, both on land and in space, conjure the same emotions of possibility, isolation, discovery, and freedom that Western films traditionally presented. Serenity also has roots in the ranch story, the revenge story, the outlaw story, and the empire story. But what we love about Serenity is how this film makes its own sci-fi twists and turns within those traditions.

Let’s not forget perhaps the strongest links between the Western and sci-fi genres in Serenity — the characters. All of the main characters, in fact, receive their own genre classification in this video (I’m a sucker for wild-card Jayne). With lead characters like River, Zoe, Kaylee, and Inara, the iconic usage of strong, original female characters from sci-fi films is successfully lifted into a Western backdrop. It’s an important leap away from the narrow representations of female characters found in classic Western films.

And then we have Mal Reynolds as the definitive John Wayne character, IN SPACE! His ambitious and righteous attitude is enough to make audiences think of The Duke. But, as this video explains, Mal is also a new-born Western genre character in his own right. He believes in the justice of individual liberty for all humanity. In Mal, any lingering racial, moral, or civil disruptions which negatively plagued Western films are a thing of the past.

So let’s all join in celebrating Serenity‘s shiny 10th anniversary while also continuously hoping for a sequel, or season two, or ANYTHING else Firefly related, please? Leave a comment below about your favorite moments in Serenity.

HT: The Mary Sue

Image Credit: Universal

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