Camargue western

   Camargue Westerns were a series of Western films shot in the silent era in France's southern Camargue region, which bears certain similarities to the American West, with respect to terrain and to the culture of cattle rearing and horseback riding. Some films were also shot elsewhere in Provence. The principal director of Camargue Westerns was Jean Durand, and all films of this type starred Joë Hamman, an actor who had gone to the American West and had performed with the Buffalo Bill traveling show. Of Durand's Westerns, examples include Calino veut être Cowboy (1911), Onésime sur le sentier de guerre (1913), Une pendaison à Jefferson City (1912), and Le Railway de la mort (1912). Another important group of Westerns made in the Camargue were the Arizona Bill series, which ran from 1910 to 1912. It is believed that Hamman himself directed five of these films, and that the remainder were directed by Gaston Roudès. This, at least, is what Hamman reported in his autobiography.
   These early Westerns imitated the American Western, but substituted France's Camargue region for the American West. A forerunner of the Spaghetti Western, the Camargue Western reflected the popularity of the Western in France as well as France's anxiety about losing its dominance in the period leading up to World War I. Other examples of the Camarge Western include Un drame sur une locomotive (1910), Le Fer à cheval (1910), Reconaissance d'un Indien (1910), L'Attaque d'un train (1910), Le Feu à la Prairie (1911), Le Mariage au revolver (1911), and Cent dollars vif ou mort (1911). Most of these were made for either Gaumont or Éclipse studios. Many have been lost, although copies of Le Mariage au revolver and Une pendaison à Jefferson City are known to exist.

Historical Dictionary of French Cinema. . 2007.

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