As most of you know the latest trailer for "Solo: A Star Wars Story" dropped on Sunday. Upon watching it I was immediately struck by an impression that seems to have escaped both fans and critics alike. Solo is a western, or more over heavily inspired by westerns.
To me this was blatantly obvious from the first sound that we hear, a guitar twang that sets a tone that what is about to follow is story about a gunslinger plain and simple. The imagery was unmistakable to guy like me who grew up in household where my father watched every John Wayne movie that came on TV with as much glee as I watch science fiction classics like "The Day The Earth Stood Still." Oh yes, I've seen them all a hundred times and I can tell you that "Solo" is as much a western as it is a space opera. The scene on the beach where Han reaches down to unstrap his gun with a band of outlaws fanned out in front of him is an homage to a scene that I've seen in at least a dozen westerns before. The poker game with Lando, that's a western staple as well. Then we see Han, Tobias Beckett (Woody Harrelson) and the rest of the "outlaws" in a scene gathered around a campfire, again a scene from countless westerns. Let us not forget that the whole thing is leading up to a train robbery and nothing says cowboy flick more than that.
This is actually a brilliant play on the part of the filmmakers when you take into account that when George Lucas originally conceived the Han Solo character way back in the seventies John Wayne's character Rooster Cogburn from "True Grit" (1969) was mentioned as one of his inspirations along with Gary Cooper in "High Noon" (1952). Ron Howard knew this and wisely crafted "Solo" to be an equal part cowboy flick as it is sci-fi epic.
Han Solo has been a cowboy from the beginning.
Watch the trailer with this in mind and tell me what you think: