The western is a genre that’s almost utterly unique to the cinema, inescapably etched into the landscapes of its past and peculiarly ostracised from its contemporary foundations. The western used to be the benchmark of Hollywood spectacle and action, now it stands out more as a spectre of a bygone era.

While there are some fantastic examples of modern westerns from the last 20 years or so, the genre still hasn’t been rejuvenated to the peaks of not only its former glories, but more tragically its former popularity. With Tarantino’s Django Unchained out in cinemas now, one can but hope that it will draw some much needed attention to one of cinema’s most recognisable, culturally significant and enduringly entertaining genres.

So, if you’ve seen Tarantino’s latest cinematic offering and feel like you’d like to delve into the Western a bit more, here’s a list of some of the most significant examples of the genre, both classic and contemporary. Some of the films on this list can be seen to have directly influenced Django Unchained, whereas others are simply superb films that shouldn’t be missed if you’re on the hunt for some more gun slinging action.

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This article was first posted on January 26, 2013