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Monument Valley is one of the most recognizable landscapes in the world. Its iconographic use in American Westerns has had a lasting influence on stock photography, advertising, and tourism. The valley has been given mythical significance as an image of a “primitive West” firmly in the hands of white people and meant to be protected from intruders. The fact that Monument Valley is traditional Navajo territory has been obscured in the process.
A radical examination of Monument Valley’s representation in cinema and advertising since John Ford’s Stagecoach (1939), The Taking scrutinizes how a site located on sovereign Navajo land came to embody the fantasy of the “Old West,” replete with self-perpetuating falsehoods, and why it continues to hold mythic significance in the global psyche.
“When the legend becomes fact, print the legend." While these eternal words uttered in John Ford’s 'The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance' (1962) prove poignant in dissecting any historical narrative, they also, ironically, shed some light on the hypocrisy encapsulating the legendary filmmaker’s oeuvre ...