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Its Not Often You Get an Opera, Movie, and Book

Riders of the Purple Sage: The Making of a Western Opera


Genre: Documentary
Year Released: 2020
Runtime: 1h 22m
Director(s): Kristin Atwell
Where To Watch: Coming to DVD and Streaming on November 8, 2022

RAVING REVIEW: A story about a Western Opera, based on a book, based on a movie, based on the book, based on the other films that were based on the book. The crazy story about what’s been called “the most popular western novel of all time.”

So, first and foremost, I generally don’t like Westerns; I’ve never kept that a secret. However, films like this make me appreciate the genre's history. Even though I don’t like most Westerns, I can understand what they mean to film history.

This deep dive into the book and films which helped shape the American Western and this incredible piece of history being adapted into a grand opera. The book all of this is based on from 1912 has been credited as shaping the western genre as a whole.

This film does, more than anything, give a historical look at the importance of the book and movies. Sure, the story is about it being adapted into the opera, but in providing the history, it helps to show how important it’s been. The book has been adapted into a film five times in 1918, 1925, 1931, 1941, and 1996 all titled simply RIDERS OF THE PURPLE SAGE.

Along with the movies, the book was also adapted into a comic book in 1952, and with the opera, this film is about. The opera “premiered in February and March 2017 at the Arizona Opera in Tucson and Phoenix. It later had a nationwide broadcast on November 25, 2017, by WFMT Radio Network’s American Opera Series and internationally in 2018 by the European Broadcasting Union.”

Beyond this, three western bands have used the name, and even a country rock band called themselves New Riders of the Purple Sage. Dungeons and Dragons have borrowed from the book's title and even a 1967 sci-fi novella.

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Chris Jones
Entertainment Editor

Chris Jones is the Mail Entertainment Editor covering Movies and Television topics. He is from Washington, Illinois, and is the owner, writer, and editor of Overly Honest Reviews.