Blog Directory CineVerse: A new breed of western

A new breed of western

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Yesterday, CineVerse dived head-first into the epic spaghetti western masterpiece The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. Here are the conclusions our group reached about this seminal work by Sergio Leone:


·       It employs an exaggerated style, epic scope, larger-than-life cartoonish characters, and an implausible world of grand gestures and comic book-styled action. Its pastiche style is also evident in the offbeat casting of actors of various nationalities (Americans, Italians, Spaniards), the deliberate choice to shoot silent and later dub voices in, often poorly matched dubbing.
·       The form and style of the film is quite unconventional from the traditional classic Hollywood structure:
o   Leone rarely uses medium shots, preferring alternation between longshots and close-ups, especially extreme close-ups of character’s faces, to visually tell the story.  He often prefers to open a scene or sequence with a close up instead of the traditionally used establishing (long) shot.
o   Leone draws out certain sequences to exaggerated lengths to build tension and suspense, such as the showdown at the cemetery.
o   Leone also uses silence and white space to build suspense and a surreal quality into his story.
o   Contrasting imagery of beauty and brutality, rich and poor, moral and immoral, is juxtaposed throughout the movie. The filmmakers also often prefer stark, barren compositions to imply the inherent violence and ghostly qualities lurking beneath the surface or just out of the edge of the frame.
·       Leone also suggests that our ability and the characters’ ability to see is dependent on the confines of the film frame; what the camera doesn’t show, the characters cannot see; Leone continually surprises us with sudden entrances into the frame that often defies the physical geography of the landscape the characters inhabit.
·       Unlike earlier westerns, the morality of the characters in this film is more ambiguous and blurred; each character is capable of inflicting merciless violence and being “ugly,” so the names of the characters (good, bad and ugly) are not necessarily indicative of their personalities or moralities. Type, not psychology, seems to define these characters.
·       This picture also is imbued with a postmodern hyperbolic sense of humor that can border on the absurd and ridiculous in its comedic undertones to make a point. The film functions as a parody of the western genre in that it takes many tropes and conventions of the classic movie western and exaggerates them for dramatic and comic effect.
·       The epic score by Ennio Morricone serves as a character unto itself, commenting on the action and signaling a big, brassy dramatic tension; the score was also innovative in its use of wailing voices meant to mimic coyote calls and a mocking Greek chorus. Leone also chooses to occasionally play sweet, serene music while scenes of torture and suffering are shown also reinforces the deliberately jarring and contrasting tone.
·       The senseless horrors of war.
·       Survival seems more dependent on fate and unpredictable outside factors than rugged individualism and strong will; consider the sudden cannon fire at the hotel that spares Blondie.
·       Criticism of capitalism and the traditional western’s American ideology.
·       God and the devil battling for a sinner’s soul:
o   Blondie is a Christ-like figure who is referred to as Tuco’s guardian angel; he shows compassion and mercy to a dying soldier.
o   Angel eyes is a name that refers to the fallen angel Satan; when first introduced, he kills both men who hired him to kill the other, as if suggesting that making a deal with the devil is bound to get you burned; he is “cast back down to hell” by Blondie into an open grave by the film’s end.
o   Tuco is the sinner representing the common man; he’s been made ugly by man’s original sin; consider how, every time he’s about to be hanged, his list of crimes is read aloud as if they were a confession of his sins; following each “confession,” he is forgiven by Blondie (Christ), who severs the rope. By the film’s conclusion, Tuco has to make a choice: stand on the cross (lead a virtuous life), or go for the material pleasures of the gold and risk death.
·       Leone seems inspired by the Latin literary traditions of the picaresque novel, such as Deux Amis by Guy de Maupassant, as well as commedia dell’arte.
·       The film also reflects Artaud style, meaning the characters are expressed via their actions, contrasting personalities and confrontations with one another.
·       The 1959 Italian movie La Grande Guerra, as well as Charles Chaplin’s 1947 Monsieur Verdoux, were other apparent inspirations.
·       A Fistful of Dollars, and For a Few Dollars More (the first two films in the Man With No Name trilogy)
·       His masterpiece Once Upon a Time in the West
·       His last major work, Once Upon a Time in America

  © Blogger template Cumulus by 2008

Back to TOP