The heroic exploits of Odysseus and Lancelot entertained generations of people hungry for heroes. They are what we secretly long to be. We create heroes so we can have someone to reflect our own secret desires to be that someone special who would sacrifice himself (oh yes, it usually is a he) for the good of the world. But the heroes themselves are more often than not reluctant to take up their quest – though we know that eventually they will.
The Western is one of the great heroic genres of film – from the early Hollywood westerns, to the more unsavoury saviours of the spaghetti Westerns. Shane and Wayne, Eastwood and Fonda – they may not always have worn white hats, but they carried with pride the mantle of Odysseus and Lancelot on their broad shoulders – all brothers in honour.
Broadcast: February 25, 2000