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This was a unique western, one in which sometimes the action moves
excruciatingly slow, which can either be fascinating or boring.
Unfortunately for me, after spending big bucks for the DVD when it
first came out, I found it more boring than fascinating. In my previous
viewings, I always found it fascinating. Maybe I just had a bad day.
The movie is filled with gaps of silence while closeups of the main characters' faces are shown. That's director Sergio Leone's trademark, and I believe he does it more in this film than in any of his others. When you get closeups of chiseled faces like Henry Fonda's or Charles Bronson's, it quite interesting but most of the movie feels like slow motion. At 165 minutes, this movie takes a lot of patience. By the way, the closeups of Claudia Cardinale's face were with a soft lens, so the wrinkles didn't show. That's so typical of older films with the vain female stars. Cardinale looks cheap, anyway, with all that 1960s-type eye makeup.
At any rate, the action scenes are a decent and not bloody and the characters are quite real, meaning believable. I liked Fonda in here best even though I am not particularly a fan of his but his against-type villain role of "Frank" was excellent. I read where he said this was his favorite role. I'm glad to hear that. The best character in the film, though, was "Cheyenne," played by Jason Robards.
The opening credits - spaced out over 11 minutes (which was rare in "classic movie" days) - are considered by many as the most famous ever, in any genre. The music in this film is different, too. It's not as memorable as the score from "The Good, The Bad And The Ugly," however, done by the same composer, but it has its moments. Early in the film we see some shots of Monument Valley which are the prettiest I've ever seen. I wish there had been more of that.
Overall, this is a western in which patience is rewarded, I suppose. It certainly looks beautiful on DVD and the sound has been enhanced as well. Note: when this came out on disc, the rating of the film changed from PG to PG-13.
"Once Upon a Time in the West", directed by Sergio Leone is without a
doubt, the single greatest film I have ever watched.
Everything from the near silent opening scene to the monumentally epic final moments is pure cinematic perfection. This film also has some of the best cinematography of any Western and the score by Ennio Morricone still stands today as one of the most beautiful and powerful pieces of music ever composed for the big screen.
At over 3 hours long its quite a long movie to watch and because of the very little dialogue it might be "boring" for few, but anyone who truly respects and loves the art of cinema will fall in love with this epic film.
10/10 go watch it right now
In an age of quick cuts, shaky Camera and CGI, this Film will likely be
a hard watch for the post ADD Generation. It is SLOW. The
Cinematography lingers. The lines of Dialog are at the most minimum. It
So why is this considered one of the best Westerns ever. Because it is. An achievement that is a testament to the insatiable Love of Cinema, as Art, that the Europeans unabashedly utilize, like the Hug. They are not shy about physical displays of such Affection. That is the essence of this Film. Leone is a Lover and a Hugger. He is constantly hugging this Movie Loving every minute of it.
He Loves the Genre, He Loves the Camera, He loves the Actors Faces, He loves the Landscape, he loves the Mythology, He just Loves and Loves. All that is apparent on the screen. Most likely that is why it is so lengthy. He Loved it all.
What emerges is an Authentic Fantasy. There is on display a gorgeousity of grandeur that is quite a sight. Behold its panorama and its larger than Life Characters with their own quirky Personas and accompanying Musical Riffs. This is so playful and fun. It is all done for the Lovers of the World. Mostly, the Lovers of Movies.
The king of the Spaghetti Western delivers his film with a punch in
every style in the film. The story is again the same revenge based but
need anyone think it to be a negative point when it comes to leone? The
thing in the screenplay and the execution which makes the film more
exciting till the end is that I just pondered all the time about the
characters. They are so mysterious. From the middle things start to
become clear. Till then the way characters are established is going to
be memorable forever. The opening sequence which has the 'wait' is one
of the best sequences in the film. With his tight close ups and slow
reactions of the character, I never felt if the movie was going slow.
Add to that, the intricate music by morricone and we get a hell of a
cinema. The story again involves three main characters. The way they
are introduced doesn't make it easy to identify their personality
traits. The film is good at all times and nowhere for the entire time
did I felt lost.
VERDICT: "A must watch"
This is one of my top five favorite movies of all time. I look at some of these previous reviews and see they all seem to be by men. This is an amazing and startling movie for cinematic reasons and it's also a brilliant woman's story. I've been waiting til now for my daughter to be old enough to watch this. She loved "the good, the bad and the ugly" mostly because of the score. But this is a seminal and empowering woman's film. Cardinale arrives fully aware of the risks she takes, the uncertainty she faces, and when the tragedy of the first onslaught occurs, she reconfigures in a heartbeat. She understands the male egos she must manage and orchestrate to achieve her independent powerful goal. This movie is about her triumph. Share with your daughters.
A lot of very interesting things. But in the beginning, the movie
starts as a normal Western with the bad guys looking like the bad guys
and everyone else moves into the picture as possibly the same.
A beautiful prostitute has come clear across America to marry a man name of McBain. Who we soon find out is her husband after all, and has married Jill in New Orleans. While out hunting grouse with his son, McBain is shot and killed by Frank(James?). The bloodthirsty outlaws decide to decimate the place, and soon the whole McBain family is dead. Jill, however, is about to arrive in the town not far from McBain's outpost, and is not killed. She finally arrives. But not before going to the watering hole where she is not shocked by the accommodations, but merely amused. Amused, that is, until Cheyenne shows up. Cheyenne meets the man simply known as Harmonica, a Mexican half-breed who plays an integral part in the story. Harmonica(Charles Bronson), has already blown away four of Frank's gang at the railway station. The half-breed is disappointed. He does not see Frank there, but does a job on Frank's employees. After the funeral, Jill looks everywhere in McBain's house for money, and finds none. She does not realize what the wealth is. Cheyenne shows up at McBain's place(which now belongs to her). He shows the New Orleans entertainer how to make coffee. Frank the outlaw had a singular interest in Brett McBain's land. He rides the train owned my Mr. Morton, making himself a partner. Being a paraplegic with TB, Mr. Morton has little to say in the matter. By now, Frank knows of Harmonica's presence yet even after meeting Harmonica Frank has not put 2 and 2 together yet. Harmonica even gives the names of Frank's victims. Jill McBain throws herself at Frank for really no good reason, except possibly to save her own life from the treacherous outlaw. At the time that most of her belongings go on auction, Cheyenne shows up with Harmonica and Cheyenne is the bounty, so to speak, for Jill McBain's possessions and priceless property. Definitely a film to catch your attention. The train breathing as Morton plays his hand in a bewildering game of poker is reminiscent of the breathing of Dave Bowman as he struggles to regain control of the Discovery from HAL 9000.
Jill has recently married a man named Brett McBain and she is going to
live with him and his family. Upon arriving at the McBain home she
finds that they have all been slain by a vicious criminal named Frank,
the muscle for a railroad tycoon. Frank framed a man named Cheyenne and
his band of outlaws and everyone believes that they did it. Cheyenne
must get his revenge on Frank, protect Jill, and work with a strange
man with a harmonica who has his own score to settle.
Once Upon a Time in the West is quite possibly the most expertly directed movie of all time. Every single scene is so stylistically shot that it is truly a wonder to behold. Sergio Leone uses a combination of long shots that show off the impressive western landscape with amazing facial close-ups that capture the emotions and expert acting of the wonderful cast. Leone directs with such finesse he could take a scene of someone brushing their teeth and turn it into cinematic gold. The first scene where Leone combines everyday sounds to create music is inspired as well as being an amazing example of slowly building tension to an exciting climax.
Possibly just as important if not more is Ennio Morricone's beautiful score, which is the best he's every done. His music can breath such life into a character or scene that you don't even need dialog. Morricone's compositions pack such emotional weight that they can transform a scene. A happy scene could be sad, a sad scene could be frightening and all the emotions in between. If a pictures is worth a thousand words, Morricone's music is worth ten thousand words.
The cast is excellent as well. Specifically Henry Fonda in his deeply haunting and extremely out of character turn as the ruthless Frank. A blue-eyed sweet talking villain is a rarity and a treasure. This detail is wielded to perfection by Leone as he will use a close-up on Fonda's face to accentuate his blue eyes. His clothes are dirty, his face is dirty and amidst all that grime shining beautifully are his two blue eyes. Like two oceans in the middle of the desert sand.
The script is also amazing and it deals with so many cultural and personal battles; corruption, greed, the dying of the "man," and the mechanizing of the West, and so many more. Some will complain about its length and pace, but like many great movies it gets better with multiple viewings. What can seem unnecessary and overlong oftentimes is just detailed and becomes more and more beautiful the more you see it. Once Upon a Time in the West is one of the greatest films ever made and it solidifies Morricone and Leone as some of the all time greats.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is, to me, the second best film from Sergio Leone (The director of
my favorite film, "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly") and is also one of
the best films ever made.
Everything from this is just perfect. From the outstanding atmosphere, to the memorable performances (With great, unforgettable characters, played by Charles Bronson, Claudia Cardinale and Henry Fonda, who made the best performances of their careers) The photography is simply gorgeous and gives this an epic feeling, not to mention the flawless music by Ennio Morricone, which takes the story into a whole new level.
"Once Upon a Time in the West" deserves to be praised as one of the best western ever made, but also as one of the best films of the history as well. This is masterpiece. I would give this eleven stars if I could.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
It would have been even more classic without the few opening lines and
just have pure sound effects only. But that is sooon forgotten with the
sweaky metal sound and the water dripping. This is the most memorable
opening in any movie for me. And talking about looks can kill, Jack
Elam and the bald guy alone have the goods. The fly sequence is just as
tense as it is annoying. You want jack to just shoot the thing!
the stunner for me is after the opening gun sling, Bronson goes down!
and the sequence of cuts leads you to believe Bronson was the little kid. What a trick that is.
The score in this film does most of the talking and dramatic development. Henry Fonda's cool villain stare is refreshing. Not sure about Jason's role but the plot is already complicated enough - gets a lighter sub theme song. Bronson gets the spin-chilling loner score. And Claudia's operatic strong woman sub theme makes the entire thing super melodramatic - that is until the acting calms everything down.
with scenes like that who cares about the ending!
One of the best western's ever made, with fantastic directing, acting,
and beautiful scenery, Once Upon a Time in the West is a true classic.
The story has four characters coming together on a plot of land where a
now dead owner was going to build a town around a rail station. From
there, the violence ramps up toward a slow, wonderful conclusion.
It has pretty much all the classic staples of a western. Despite not being as action-packed as most movies these days, the long portions of quiet and beautiful scenery give us a sense of the west and leave us wanting more. It's rare that a director can make such a quiet, dream-like film that leaves the viewer wanting to be part of that world.
Beautiful, serene, and overall excellent, Once Upon a Time in the West is a grand film.
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