Nine minutes well spent
The ‘short’, so long a staple of the Western genre (very many of the early silent oaters were one- or two-reel shorts) is still going strong, and the 9-minute Western The Gunfighter, which won the award for Best Short Film at the 2014 Los Angeles Film Festival, is a good example. It’s actually very good.
It works on the notion that the classic voiceover narration we are so used to can actually be heard by the protagonists. A gunfighter walks into a saloon (but there similarities with Gregory Peck in the 1950 The Gunfighter end) and suddenly the occupants of the bar can hear what the narrator is saying. And the voice seems to know everything: what’s going to happen next and everyone’s intimate and embarrassing secrets.
It’s a good idea and the dry-toned narration (by Nick Offerman) is very well done. The picture was directed by Eric Kissack.
The script was by Kevin Tenglin, who more recently wrote another such short, The Heist, also with Shawn Parsons, who plays the eponymous gunfighter.
The whole thing looks professional and they went to some trouble to create a proper Western atmosphere. The characters try to talk their way out of the dénouement and nearly succeed but the voice says it all ended in “a ballet of death”.