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Once Upon A Time In The West


#1

*Contains Spoilers



Right, where do I start? On the back of the DVD case is written ‘From start to finish, a dance of death’. That’s exactly where we will begin. The whole movie is similar to one big Mexican standoff. From the tension, to the quick and brutal violence that the director Sergio Leone had introduced so well by this time in the commonly called ‘Spaghetti Westerns’.



The story is all about three men. As the tagline reads, ’One man to love her, one man to take her away and one man to kill her’. That’s basically a short sum up of the story. Charles Bronson plays Harmonica (Labeled this because he has no name, much like Clint Eastwood in the dollars series) a ‘Good Guy’ role as he tries to protect Jill. Jill played by Claudia Cardinale is a ex whore who agreed to marry a man called McBain. However her new family are brutally murdered and she is left alone, with the killer wanting to kill her.



The opening scene (Similar to the standoff in High Noon) is perfectly done. Charles Bronson takes three guys out in a standoff outside a train station. With one of the greatest lines ever by Bronson. In actual fact the scene was shot last and after it was done, one of the men in the standoff went back to his hotel and jumped off the roof, in full cowboy dress.



As we go through we are introduced to the three men, Harmonica (The one to take her away - Played by Charles Bronson), Cheyenne (The one to love her - Played by Jason Robards) and Frank (The one to kill her - played by Henry Fonda).



When is all boils down to it, the reason for all of the killings came to the plot of land that McBain had purchased. Now it was worth a great deal. Each man wanted to get there hands on some of the money it would appear. But in this case, looks can be deceptive.



Top it all of with some shootouts and some famous Leone close-ups and long shots and here we have possibly one of the greatest movies ever. With an ending that will shock you. Fonda for me seals the show, but really Great acting all round…



/ - 10/10 (If you liked The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, you will love this. A great film).


#2

Three men are at a train station somewhere in the wild west, they’re waiting for Harmonica, a so called ‘loner’ carrying only a gun and a harmonica, to shoot him. There is no music, only the sound of a mill, a buzzing fly, a tapping drop of rain and in the end, the arrival of a railway train. When Harmonica finally arrives all he does is playing his harmonica. The music of the harmonica fades over into the brilliant soundtrack written by Ennio Morricone, and after a short conversation, he shoots the three men. In this first (eight minute lasting) scene the tone of the movie is set immediately. Close-ups of unshaved men are interchanged with wide-shots of the American country with the best film score ever laid under it. The sound of a mill makes a perfect combination with shooting guns, galloping horses and a buzzing fly.



In the American deserts (partly shot in Spain) the story of the woman Jill McBain unfolds. A story of honour, power and in the end –everything comes together in the most emotional flashback ever- revenge. The acting is great and the movie has a brilliant film score which melts together with the great images. Everyone in the movie is very charismatic, even extra’s who we see only a few seconds. This is a perfect combination of every western made before Once Upon a Time in the West in Sergio Leone’s typical and beautiful style. The light humour which the dollars-trilogy was so full of is replaced by a great, melancholic and far more dark atmosphere, something you also notice in the filmscore that’s far more dark than in Leone’s earlier films. This ís Sergio Leone’s masterpiece.