by Stefania Fumo
VENICE, Italy, Sept. 2 (Xinhua) -- The Western genre galloped across the screens at the Venice Film Festival this weekend, in two very different interpretations by the Coen brothers and by French director Jacques Audiard.
The American writer-director duo Joel and Ethan Coen, winners of four Oscars and the Palme d'Or at Cannes, rode in on a cheerfully violent "anthology Western" told in six chapters with six different storylines, all centering on a man named Buster Scruggs and played by Tim Blake Nelson.
Ttitled The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, the movie also stars James Franco, Liam Neeson, and cult musician Tom Waits, among others.
Like many Americans of the 1950s generation, the two brothers said they grew up watching old Westerns on TV.
"But the first Westerns we saw in the (movie) theater and that we were both crazy about were the Sergio Leone movies of the late 1960s and early 70s," said Joel Coen.
Leone (1929-1989), a key reference for Western genre filmmakers and fans, propelled Clint Eastwood to stardom with A Fistful of Dollars (1964), a remake of seminal Japanese director Akira Kurosawa's Yojimbo (1961).
The Coens, who co-wrote and co-directed what is their 18th feature film, denied press reports that The Ballad of Buster Scruggs was originally conceived as a Netflix series, which they cobbled together into a feature in time for Oscar consideration early next year.
"There was never any alternate version of the movie we're showing here (in Venice)," said Ethan.
"In our minds it was always an anthology," said Joel.
The Coens' offering, which premiered on Saturday, was followed on Sunday by The Sisters Brothers, directed by Parisian filmmaker Jacques Audiard.
Shot in Spain and Romania, the two-hour movie stars Riz Ahmed, Jake Gyllenhaal, Joaquin Phoenix and John C. Reilly in a dreary tale of two brothers -- one evil, the other a little less so -- who shoot their way across the Wild West while also working out the kinks in their relationship.
"Normally in a Western, you rescue a girl from the Indians, you see cattle drivers and farmers fighting, everything is simple and linear," said Audiard, who won the Palme d'Or at Cannes in 2015 with his movie Dheepan.
"Here we assert something that is less clear. We're in a Western where the cowboy cries when his horse dies...."
The Venice Film Festival, now in its 75th edition, runs through Sept. 8.