Monday, August 5, 2013
Sergio Leone's ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST is considered by many, a masterpiece
The finale, Frank (Henry Fonda) and Harmonica's (Charles Bronson) showdown.
How did Sergio Leone create such masterful westerns? Some would argue Leone's were better than the American productions. His love for the American western is evident; and its influence created his style called the "Spaghetti Westerns."
Perhaps one major reason is his amazing partnership with his primary school mate and composer Ennio Morricone, as in director and composer pairs Federico Fellini and Nino Rota, Alfred Hitchcock and Bernard Herman. Morricone would write some of the score before the film was shot, and Leone would incorporate his script to the score afterwards.
In addition, Morricone would write different themes representing each major character. He wrote four different musical themes for the four major characters in ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST. These themes would play when the character appeared on screen, offering a memorable experiece for the viewer.
But it was the silent, sinister type-characters who loved their gun more than money or women which was enhanced by Clint Eastwood. He introduced the archtypical gunslinger as a man with no name who comes from nowhere; always silent and only lets his gun talk for him.
In addition, this film is much slower in pace and sombre in theme. The film features long, slow scenes in which there is very little dialogue and little happens, broken by brief and sudden violence. Leone was far more interested in the rituals preceding violence than in the violence itself. The tone of the film is consistent with the arid semi-desert in which the story unfolds, and imbues it with a feeling of realism that contrasts with the elaborately choreographed gunplay.
Poetically expressed in the most dramatic and eloquent of westerns, ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST stars Claudia Cardinale as Jill McBain, Charles Bronson as Harmonica, Henry Fonda as Frank, and Jason Robards as Cheyenne.