Once Upon A Time In The West

Year Released: 1968
Main Stars: Henry Fonda, Charles Bronson, Claudia Cardinale, Jason Robards
Last watched: September 2015
Review Date: September 2015
Number Watches: 2
Format Watched: DVD

Westerns have a certain feeling and end up being Cowboys or Cavalry running after Indians or Bad guys. Not so here. In fact this is not just a good movie, it’s got classic written all over it. It’s not got the appeal to a kid who wants action and gun fights as I can testify to since I remember thinking it was just a long film with dark bits and no apparent hero. I remember comparing it unknowingly to the Clint Eastwood movies and wondering where the humour was and the guy I could emulate with my cap guns.

However, when I watched it again recently I couldn’t take my eyes away from any of the scenes. So beautifully shot, each moment is something you could frame and hang on a wall! From the start – and if you don’t watch anything else, watch the start at the station – the settings and angles are those you get now-a-days from the most advanced green-screens trying to emulate the comic panels but also including sounds that seem to have their own personalities. Honest! I’m not just making this up to sound all arty-farty, it’s a wonderful piece of, well, art. Sergio and his production are kinda like a part of the cast, not just behind the scenes. Sounds odd but you’ll get it when you’ve got around to seeing this a second time.

Now, hold on though. This isn’t your poncey stuff that has to ‘mean’ something in every shot. It’s still a good film if you ignore all that, although it’s not, as I said at the start, an ordinary run-around type Western so probably not one for anyone under 25. I ‘got’ the humour this time around, possibly cause I’m older and can relate to these older people, possibly because I can see a lot of historic elements. Who knows, who cares. You get it or not then you watch again a few weeks/months/years later and see if you get it then.

So, music is a key here. Each of the main guys has a ‘theme’ and each of them also has a definate look and personality so all this is washing over you when you’re trying to put the plot together and waiting for the ‘twist’ to appear. Don’t get overly anxious on that score, it’s not a big thriller twist, just an ordinary one. There’s also a feeling of time moving on. Although this is only over the space of a few days, it feels at the end like you’ve been through an epic American culture change for everyone. The actors are totally separate on-screen presences but all part of the whole. Henry has a charm and authority, Charles is cool with a hint of singular destiny, Jason has an all-man appeal and Claudia is beautiful and sexy. Everything works so well.

Summary. There are shoot-outs but not many, there isn’t any horse chasing, bang-bang or Indian fighting but there is a definite feeling of being in a new town in the Old West and seeing the New West appearing. So well acted you believe in everyone including the background people. Not an ultra-realistic film but more a big play on a big stage with big characters.

Good. Very good.

DVD Extras: Making of documentary with interviews and hints at the missing scenes, a few more bits and pieces. In the one I got, there was also a notebook on the story of the making of. A good pack for a DVD and for a film of this age.

Keep DVD?

Watch if on TV?
Snog, Marry, Avoid?


About Simon Trail

I'm just another film watcher with an opinion.
This entry was posted in 1960s, Action, Drama, Film Review, I currently have this as a keepsie, Western and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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