Monday, March 4, 2024

Leone Watch: Once Upon a Time in the West (1968)

Watched:  03/03/2024
Format:  Paramount+
Viewing:  Unknown
Director:  Sergio Leone
Selection:  Oh, definitely me

It had been a few years since I'd last watched this movie all the way through, and it's funny to go back see my concern in that write-up that I'd watch the movie too much and it would lose some magic.  Well, I took about 8 years off between viewings, so there you go (I also wrote the film up briefly in 2015).  

This time I was very, very interested in the movie's not exactly subtle analogy for "the end of the West" as rail threatens to bring civilization and that will end the days of the gunslingers and a way of life that's maybe not lasted all that long, but long enough, and can't be a part of the world.  And what happens to the archetypes as the future rolls in.  None of these men are going to change - but the woman can bring civilization.  

As some pals would say, the movie is "vibes".  The plot is pretty easily summed up, and it has long, drawn-out scenes with characters watching and looking, and only speaking as needed - something I associate with Leone films in general.  

But, yeah, I was pretty tired, and pretty raw I guess when I put the movie on, because I got a bit choked up watching some scenes.  Not sad scenes.  Like, literally just watching the shot from the train, to the station to the crane up to the whole town, and Jill moving forward purposefully - and paired with the incredible Ennio Morricone score.  We just don't get that swing-for-the-fences stuff in movies anymore, if we ever did.  

But this movie goes wide as needed, and close-in as needed.  It's a movie where eyes tell the story as much as words. And, man, does Claudia Cardinale's slightest expression carry an ocean of meaning.

Anyway, if you've never seen it, it remains one of my desert-island movies.  There's so much that's great in the movie, and I think people who know about it, know.  But it still seems to fly a bit under the radar. 

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