8 films that inspired Beyoncé's latest album

8 films that inspired Beyoncé's latest album

The Harder They Fall (Jeymes Samuel, 2021)

It is not surprising that The Harder They Fall appears in this list. First, because it is produced by Jay Z, husband and colleague of Beyoncé. But this film is above all the result of a modern mix of the western and Blaxploitation, this cultural movement born in the 1970s, and which saw African-American characters come to the forefront. At the same time, the film's soundtrack also mixes genres from Jay-Z's rap to the soul of Sealthrough the R&B of Lauryn Hillthe funk of Cee Lo Green and the reggae of Coffee.

Inspired by the historical figure of Nat Love, a slave who became a cowboy, the first feature film by Jeymes Samuel recounts the vendetta of the character portrayed by Jonathan Majors against Rufus Buck (Idris Elba), the murderer of his parents, bringing together a five-star cast: Regina King, Zazie Beetz, Lakeith Stanfieldare all part of a cast that highlights strong and emancipated black characters.

Killers of the Flower Moon (Martin Scorsese, 2023)

Most recent films cited by PR Newswire, Killers of the Flower Moonthe latest achievement of Martin Scorsese returns to the true story of a series of assassinations of Osage natives after the discovery of oil wells on their land. Lily Gladstone And Leonardo DiCaprio play a mixed couple caught in the whirlwind of a murderous story that overwhelms them.

With Killers of the Flower MoonMartin Scorsese signs a film which shows head-on the way in which the United States was built: on the blood of people who, Native or Black, are killed, mutilated, used in the name of the growth of a forever divided country.

In 2024, the film was nominated for ten Academy Awards, including Best Actress for Lily Gladstone.

Five fingers for Marseille (Michael Matthews, 2018)

Transposing the world of the Wild West into the modern South African countryside, this western Michael Matthews draws a parallel between the genocide of the Natives and Aparteid. It follows Tau, charismatic leader of a band of young people ready to fight to defend their small town of Marseille. After killing two white police officers, Tau heads into the hills, embracing the life ofoutlaw for almost twenty years before having to return and risk his life to save his village.

A film which is reminiscent of all these stories of misfits solitary people who populate westerns, but also these figures who stand alone in the face of a danger threatening a certain balance. This is the case in The Train will whistle three timesbut also in Rio Bravo.

However, with this reference, it is also her Africanness that Beyoncé claims, denouncing a systematic repression of people of color, in the United States and everywhere else.

Urban Cowboy (James Bridges, 1980)

By following the migration from the countryside to the city of Houston of Bud Davis, a young cowboy camped by John Travoltathis film James Bridges underlines the painful divide between rural and urban areas, inherent in the creation of a country “patchwork”. Cowboy hats, rodeos and kicker dancing violently opposed the steel and smoke of 1980s urban planning.

But beyond this visual aspect, Urban Cowboyit is also an original soundtrack which helped to popularize country music, driven by the image of John Travolta, already crowned with the successes of Saturday night fever and of Grease. In addition to recalling the origins of Beyoncé, a native of Houston, the film therefore draws a parallel between the construction of the country and traditional Texan sounds.

The Dirty Eight (Quentin Tarantino, 2015)

Released three years later Django Unchained, The Bastard Eight also restores their rightful place to African-Americans in the western genre by making a character played by Samuel L. Jackson one of its main characters. Eighth film of Quentin Tarantinoit takes up the motif of the bounty hunter ready to do anything to collect his reward and already used in The good, the bad and the ugly, and for a few more dollarsor The Wild Horde.

Two bounty hunters, a prisoner, a major, a sheriff, the manager of a relay, an executioner, a cowboy and a confederate find themselves trapped in an inn by a snowstorm. What could go wrong? With this film, Tarantino confronts eight layers of early American society, a social dissection that Beyoncé takes up in her album.

In 2016, Ennio Morriconea big name in “Western” soundtracks, received the Oscar for Best Film Score for The Bastard Eight.

Space Cowboys (Clint Eastwood, 2000)

If the traditional western shows the advance of a pioneering front from East to West, this disaster film Clint Eastwood, released in 2000, transposes this front into space, between the Earth and the Moon. The film follows a team of four grizzled astronauts (played by Clint Eastwood, Tommy Lee Jones, Donald Sutherland And James Garner), recalled by NASA to prevent a Soviet communications satellite from crashing into Earth.

Iconic figure of the spaghetti western (to which Beyoncé alludes in the album with the fortuitously titled track “SPAGHETTII”) particularly at Sergio LeoneClint Eastwood himself contributed several stones to the building of the genre by directing films that have become cult: The Man of the High Plains, Josey Wales outlaw or Ruthless.

In Space Cowboyshe enjoys diverting the pattern of the western to make it a new cinematographic object, and in accordance with its time, just as Beyoncé diverts the motifs of country in her album to create a form of hybrid.

O'Brother (Joel and Ethan Coen, 2000)

Maybe not as western-inspired as No Country for Old Men, O'Brother still takes the viewer on a journey through rural America during the Great Depression. Rewriting of Homer's Odyssey, the seventh film of the Coen brothersfollows the epic strewn with pitfalls of Ulysses (George Clooney), Delmar (Tim Blake Nelson) and Pete (John Turturro), just escaped from prison.

Beyond the American landscapes of another time, it is the sounds of the original soundtrack that inspired Beyoncé. Most of the songs that compose it are covers of traditional songs from bluegrass (a branch of country music), gospel, blues and folk. We will particularly mention “I Am a Man of Constant Sorrow”performed by the Soggy Bottom Boys, the group briefly formed by the three prisoners in the film, and whose recording scene has become a classic of Coen brothers cinema.

Thelma and Louise (Ridley Scott, 1991)

With this escape that looks like road movie, Ridley Scott immerses the viewer in deep America, from Arkansas to Oklahoma City, via Arizona and the Mexican borders. On board this car, Thelma (Geena Davis) and Louise (Susan Sarandon), push back the front of female emancipation after killing a man who tried to rape one of them.

Just like in Winchester '73, Louise's gun becomes a character in its own right, an emblem of this freedom after which the two characters run. And it is this symbol that Beyoncé chose to illustrate the limited edition vinyl of her new album.

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