Watching the opening section (first 15 mins) of ' Fort Apache' it becomes clear when analysed that it both conforms to and diverges from typical western models of genre and narrative in different ways.
Throughout the initial (set-up/credits) shots, the film effectively establishes itself as a western genre film. This is accomplished by showing a variety of contrasting shots depicting the west as both wild and untamed (Indians riding horseback in full war dress) and the civilised 'happy family' whit men (dancing soldiers and their extremely plain wives).The soundtrack supports these details to the best of its ability, making drastic movements though several different genres of music often heard in a typical western (string quartet/war drums) and then finally, once the credits have finished, it settles on a racy, more upbeat kind of background music that gives the introduction a sense of urgency and something new. These initial shots and the music that accompanies them, though contrasting, gives the mood of a conflict brewing, but still manages to contain a certain decency about it.
The opening credits have established the two opposing sides (cowboys/Indians) but it is quite obvious that this conflict is not as brutal and savage as some of those shown in the history of the 'wild west'. This film has already shown traits that can help to classify it as a certain type of western, e. g. It does not have a lone stranger walking into a last chance saloon, but it does contain vast iconic western landscapes inferring freedom and peace, but it also contains more old-fashioned war story feel - e. g. 'Alamo' ' Coenal Custers last stand'.
The narrative begins with two travellers riding a wagon.Their friendly banter about being slightly off schedule introduces two of the main characters - Colonel Thursday and his daughter, Philadelphia. They are immediately established as outsiders as Thursday shows his distaste for this part of the 'Wild West'. The idea of introducing this outside character to new surroundings is not a new one within the western genre, although it is usually established by a drastic difference in dress, and though colonel Thursday's appearance is quite different to that of his potential men, it is only in the way that his uniform is properly ordered, and they have lazed their regulations.This time, also the differences between the new and old characters is emphasised through personal opinion - e.
g. Thursday seems not to care that it is George Washington's birthday and seems to be more concerned with appearance. Once Thursday arrives at his destination his presence provokes numerous different reactions. All of the characters react to him immediately as a superior, and one of the new Lieutenants offers him his ambulance and escort to 'Fort Apache'.This series of events reveals a new central character - Lieutenant Michael O'Rourke and his family of war heroes and useful housewives, Thursday's old friend (Collingwood) who he refuses to acknowledge as one and John Wayne's character (Captain York). Thursday's arrival, and Michael's promotion are prime examples of Todorov's theory of equilibrium, with the normal order of things being threatened by something new (Thursdays arrival) until a new order is established.
Despite this, it could be argued that 'Fort Apache' does not conform to this theory of equilibrium e. g. the film has not really shown how Fort Apache was like before Thursday's arrival. There may be no change in the regime. Throughout these opening minutes there is a plentiful amount of examples of cause and effect.
The first one is an unknown cause, (possibly an unexplained/unfair on due to Thursday's disgust) with the effect of Thursday's being transferred to this 'backwater territory.Another example could be Michael's promotion above his father and close friends. (He has been away climbing the ranks for 4 years) Despite having typical character traits in the narrative and genre that belong to the western genre, no enemies have been introduced yet, rather the possibility of Thursday becoming one, or an attack from a run-down rabble of Indians. Wither way it is a rather general if non-existent threat.