The Notebook Primer introduces readers to some of the most important figures, films, genres, and movements in film history.Above: The Great Train RobberyThe western has been around since nearly the advent of cinema. Some of Thomas Edison’s earliest films incorporated standard conventions of the genre, established in preceding works of popular fiction, and other key tropes were solidified in Edwin S. Porter
’s pioneering The Great Train Robbery
(1903). Primarily originating on the East Coast, American motion picture production soon made its general migration west where the geographic consequences only amplified the form, enticing the likes of producers and directors including Thomas Ince and Cecil B. DeMille
. The western swiftly flourished as an exuberant, manifold survey of idealized, often exaggerated themes concerning heroism, progress, and the myth of the American dream. The genre became a beloved compendium of cultural dichotomies, iconic symbols, locations, and character types, evincing countless variations alongside the tried and true.