The taming of the west need not revolve around the polarity of Indian against cavalry; it could simply be part of the background, the deus ex machina required to bring about certain events in the plot. As I outline in my biography of Thomas Ince, quickly in his career the use of the western formula became more complex and involved other genres.
In The Struggle (Broncho, 1913) a prospector and his son Bob depart from home in the morning, while the wife, at home, offers food to a passing stranger. His shifting eyes reveal his nature; he assaults her, and although her husband and son return in time to save her, the father is killed in the ensuing fight. The stranger gets away, but five years later Bob, now a government scout, recognizes the stranger just as he is accused of cheating at cards. A series of camera shots reveal that it is this man, rather than Bob, who shoots the stranger, but no one else realizes this and the sheriff accuses Bob. Even when Bob explains the stranger's murder of his father, and how his mother died of grief shortly thereafter, he finds little sympathy.
Desperate, he flees, assuring his guilt in the eyes of others. However, a week later, seeing Indians attack a stage, he must save it, even though it means he will be retaken at the fort. In the manner of Ince's Indian Massacre a year earlier, a single incident leads to a spiral of events that ripple steadily outward, encompassing steadily more individuals and aspects of society. The broadening scope of the plot of The Struggle is reflected in a series of shifting visuals, from the prospector's cabin, to the fort, the saloon of the shooting, the plains of Indian ambush, and the bed where the real killer died revealing his guilt to the doctor. On the way for trial, Indians ambush Bob and the sheriff, who must be saved by his captive.
Meanwhile the real killer has confessed by the time they return to the fort, proving it by noting the stranger was shot by a different caliber bullet than Bob had. The ease with which a miscarriage of justice so nearly occurred, despite Bob's morality and courage, undercut the narrative norms of the western genre.
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