Red Dead Redemption is still Rockstar's finest achievement in my book. It's a demonstration of everything you could want out of an open world game and The Witcher 3 is slowly joining it at the top of my list. But the aspect that I probably loved the most about Red Dead Redemption was Rockstar's numerous homages to the cinematic greats. Being from a filmmaking background, there are countless references to westerns in Red Dead for you to enjoy and I seriously hope they keep them coming in Red Dead Redemption 2.
We've had discussions about the location of Red Dead Redemption 2 in the past, and the possibility of it moving to Japan. The main reason that the crossover would work is basically due to one man: Akira Kurosawa. This world-renowned filmmaker has inspired Western directors like Francis Ford Coppola, Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese and George Lucas. But the most apparent influence he had on Western cinema, and the western as a genre, is with the work of The Good, the Bad and the Ugly director, Sergio Leone.
The reason I mention this particular filmmaker is he's going to be popping up in this list I'll create below. Red Dead Redemption 2 is hopefully Rockstar's next open world game, perhaps 2K will reveal something at E3 this month - or even Sony could announce that PS3 exclusive, Agent! In any case, this is kind of a list of Westerns that you should watch anyway, but I hope Rockstar take the time to include homages to these cinematic greats in Red Dead Redemption 2!
Rockstar's Red Dead Redemption 2 & The Ultimate Westerns to Draw From!
The Searchers (1956)
Above, you are looking at one of the most iconic and poignant stills from the conclusion to what's considered to be one of the best films of all time. John Ford's, The Searchers, from 1956 is an absolute masterpiece. It stars John Wayne as Ethan Edwards - renowned as one of the greatest roles and characters he ever played - who's brother's family are attacked by Comanches, with one of them being captured. He embarks on an incredible journey to retrieve his niece from the wilds of old Texas (though mostly shot in stunning Arizona).
If you like Westerns, this demands to be seen. Actually, if you like films at all it needs to be seen. I'd love to see a replication of the shot above in Red Dead Redemption 2 or even a reference to a character named Ethan (and not some dead guy related to Bonny). You've got to see this film if you've yet to indulge in one of John Ford's many masterpieces.
Dead Man (1995)
Jim Jarmusch is one of the most fascinating directors in modern American cinema. He's made such classics as Broken Flowers, Only Lovers Left Alive, Stranger Than Paradise and my personal favourite, Dead Man, from 1995. If The Searchers can be considered the quintessential classic western, then Dead Man can be considered its very antithesis. This is a dark, slow and contemplative study, one which is sprinkled with Jarmusch's peculiar humour.
The film has been dubbed as a "psychedelic western", which is perfectly apt. Neil Young recorded the soundtrack for the film, which is naturally seeped in guitar music, some of which he actually improvised while watching the film. It's an insane adventure that defies explanation - as many of Jarmusch's films do. If you're looking for something strange, Dead Man is a perfect fit and I'd love to see Red Dead Redemption 2 include a mission with the deranged tone of Dead Man.
Yojimbo (1961) & Seven Samurai (1954)
These two films from Japanese filmmaker Akira Kurosawa, have inspired so many American variations. Seven Samurai's plot is the basis for The Magnificent Seven and also Pixar's A Bug's Life. It tells the tale of a small village community who are continuously raided by bandits. They venture to a nearby town to recruit seven samurai to help them defeat those that slaughter them. It's over 3 hours long and it's unbelievable.
His other film, Yojimbo, was actually the basis for Sergio Leone's, A Fistful of Dollars. Leone was actually sued for basically copying Kurosawa's original and transmuting its setting to the old west. It's remarkable how well this era in Japan transfers to the old west. Both of these films demand to be seen and I hope that Red Dead Redemption 2 acknowledges their influence on the genre.
El Topo (1970)
This film is bat-shit crazy. If Red Dead Redemption 2 has any reference to this film during its campaign, it should be just as deranged. I'll let you see this trailer below because it actually can't be described.
So there you have it! Four films I'd love to see referenced in Red Dead Redemption 2, and four films that you all need to see. Let me know in the comments if there's anything else out there you'd like to be included. I purposefully didn't mention some of the more obvious westerns as Rockstar already covered most of them in Red Dead Redemption. So mention your favourite westerns in the comments!