Reviews written by registered user
|4 reviews in total|
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is one of those movies you find late at night just before you want to go to bed, just idly zapping through the channels on your TV-set, and then just get gripped by it and stay up two hours longer than you wanted to, because you'll regret not having seen the rest of it. It's the last days of WWII and Germany is being overrun by the allies from all sides. A group of boys (they aren't even teenagers yet) in a small german village are drafted for the Volkssturm, a last resort german people's army composed mostly of elderly men and young boys and teenagers. The movie follows them in their preparations for a war which, in their minds, still remains vague and far away. Their innocence and childlike manners are in macabre contrast to the death that awaits them, much sooner in fact than anyone of them expects. When their veteran Sergeant commands them to take up defensive positions at a bridge just outside their village it is supposed to be a practice run. But instead they are thrown into combat by the sudden advance of allied forces, and without any help from experienced soldiers these children now face American tanks, which will turn them either into men or put them in their graves...
Perhaps one of the very best and clear examples of what happens when innocent people are thrown into the midst of total war. Also a rare example of a quality German warmovie. Gripping and honest, no fancy heroism, good action scenes that stand up to the test of time, good acting, all in all a very good film. Highly recommended.
I can't quite find the words to even come close to describing the pure
brilliance of this movie.
When this movie was made, the western genre was dominated by the big
hollywood studios. The western was taken by these studios and transformed
into an opportunity to portray classic superheroes like John Wayne and Burt
Lancaster in their fight against all sorts of smalltime crooks and outlaws
in smalltime stories and smalltime towns.
It was a genuine effort to portray 'Americanism', the American Way, along
with a romanticised view of the west as 'Frontier country' where good
triumphed over bad and where the life was hard but honest.
It was the American Way.
And then came this film. The title, 'Once Upon A Time In The West' must have seemed to mean nothing more than 'just another western' to the unexpecting viewers at the time. Oh boy were they wrong. With this movie, Sergio Leone singlehandedly redefined the western genre and no American western would ever match the brilliant spirit in which it was made. While the story is basically the same as in any other western, it is the WAY in which it is presented that so clearly distances this western from others. Whereas other westerns are simply stories that are designed to entertain, this movie is an emotional masterpiece that will move your heart. Sergio Leone takes the ordinary western and replaces words with looks, and conversations with feelings and emotions. With his brutal but honest portrayal of the sheer hardness of life and death in those times he thoroughly destroys the old romantic idea of the west as a 'generally-hunky-dory-kind-of-scene with the occasional bad guy and indian' and replaces it with an eerie, dark, hot and dry place where life is cheap and only the strongest will survive.
I cannot adequately convey in words the way in which Sergio Leone deepens and defines the characters by pure means of visual persuasion. It starts with the three gunman in the beginning of the movie, waiting for some reason at a train station for someone or something that obviously is going to be on the next train. No explanation, no conversation; not a word is said. Even the stationmaster is ushered into captivity without a single audible threat. Then comes the waiting... Any other director would have skipped directly to the moment of arrival, but Sergio Leone takes minutes of boredom and translates it into a visual feast, deepening the characters that are portrayed and making them more human, more real to the viewer, while at the same time encompassing us with a deep dark sense of foreboding. This way in which the story is not just augmented but in times completely replaced by the sheer visual drama, is perfected by the absolute fantastic music, directed by Ennio Morricone. Who needs words and explanations when the combined forces of cinematic mastery and heart-tearing music are not just able to carry the story, but pick it up and push it up to such heights of excellence that it has no equal in it's genre?
Another great feat that adds to the power of this movie is the minimalistic way of portrayal of the characters as real, emotional people. Not a single word is said that isn't required for the understanding of the story, yet the characters feel more true than those in movies where whole conversations are added merely to explain their motives. Instead of words, the camera focuses on the characters...so that you can simply read the emotion off their faces. Often no explanation is given other than than a mere facial expression. No superheroes or supercriminals, just real, desire-laden, traumatised, obsessed people that act upon motives inherently understood by the viewer.
All in all this is without a single doubt in my mind the greatest western of all times, and even though Sergio Leone has made many more mindblowing, heart-shattering westerns like this one, like 'A Fistful of Dynamite', 'The Good The Bad and The Ugly', and 'For a Few Dollars More', none could equal 'Once Upon A Time In The West' in sheer magnitude of perfection. Western has never been the same since....
I only wish I'd have been there in 1969 when the movie was new and see it, for the first time with fresh innocent eyes and an unexpecting mind..just like 2001: A Space Odyssey (also of 1969, a year of legends).
A tip for those who have never seen this movie: Bribe, beg, borrow, or steal yourself into possession of a Videobeam and Hifi-audio equipment if you can't find a cinema that is showing this movie. Turn the audio up WAY HIGH (never mind the neighbors) and prepare never to be the same again.........
I (obviously) gave this movie a 10 because no matter how hard I try I can't find anything less than perfect about it.
Forget about all the love stuff...rather thin love story at the
This movie really shines in the portrayal of the Yugoslavian
Genocide, nowadays eufemistically named 'ethnic cleansing' (I spit on those
two words; only a politician could have used the word 'cleansing' as a
substitute for 'mass murder') is very realistically portrayed in this
War doesn't get any dirtier than this.
The movie focuses however neither on the victims nor the butchers, and in
fact makes very little effort to which side is 'the good side'. This is
close to the actual truth, which is that there was no good side. In war
there are only two sides: The people with the guns doing the killing and
people who want to live in peace who take care of the dying
This movie focuses on two things; the journalists and the
The very natural and realistic acting results in three real, lifelike
journalists, much more down to earth than the ones in 'Salvador'(1986) and
closer but still better than the ones in 'the killing fields'.
There are times when you can almost see them s****ing in their pants out of
Only Andy MacDowell character is truly unrealistic in her fanatical search for her lover and should have been shot halfway the movie if she was to have any realism about her. Sorry.
Because the journalists are all such real persons the whole movie gets a new kind of realism. Strong acting and grim settings are combined to create a true and realistic atmosphere of desperation, hopelessness and grim determination in the whole of the war zone scenes. Only a few war movies succeed in coming close to showing the truth about war: It's mindless, senseless, immoral, clinical, and chaotic way of destroying everything and everyone in it's path, without remorse, pity or hesitation.
In the past few years movies are getting better in portraying the true face of war. 'The thin red line' , 'Saving private Ryan' and 'Enemy at the gates' spring to mind. Of pre-1980 movies most american war movies are basically gung-ho crap. Notable exception is 'Go tell the Spartans' (1978) with Burt Lancaster. Remember to watch 'the killing fields' and 'Salvador', as they both center on journalists, just like in this movie.
I gave this movie an 8. It would have gotten better if the love story part would have been anywhere near as realistic as the war stuff. But you can't blame the director for skipping on that to concentrate on the realism in the war stuff. It's to his merit that he knew his priorities.
PS: bad acting by Andy MacDowell. This movie would have been better with a capable but lesser well known actrice in her part. Now her bigger-than-life 'Hollywoodian' image conflicts with the role she is playing, and sharply contrasts with the brilliantly presented, down to earth journalists. She is too unrealistic as a character to play in such a realistic film.
Can't even remember when I first saw this one. Still one of the finest
action movies around. If you first saw Escape from LA and now want to see
this movie, you're going to be pleasantly surprised: It's better than the
LA-remake.WAY WAY better. I consider the remake an insult to this
This movie truly brings dark, gloomy, atmospheric settings, a furiously
suspenseful soundtrack, decent acting and a simple though fast-paced script
together into a work of art. One of John Carpenters very
This movie, like so many of the 80's action movies, has nothing of the
yukkie commercial, sentimental and politically correct crap that so many of
the 90's action movies are polluted by. If you're in for some hardcore,
paced no holds barred action you will NEVER regret seeing this movie. And
isn't even remotely gory or unnecessarily bloody. It's just pure, well
If you like this movie (and you're going to) you should definitely see 'The
Thing', which I think is even better than this one, and that's hard. This
one is one of my top 10 80's Action Movies (Aliens/Terminator/The
Thing/Blade Runner etc), and it should be on yours.
If you want to see Kurt Russel perform well in a more recent action movie,
go and rent 'Soldier' instead of the remake of this movie.
This movie truly is an absolute cult classic and a very, VERY good action movie. Don't let other commentators fool you.