ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST is one of the great western movie out there. Supported by such a talented actors. Such as Charles Bronson, Jason Robards, Claudia Cardinale, and of course the good guy Henry Fonda who played a bad guy in this movie. It's quite surprising, you know. To see Henry Fonda playing as a cold, ruthless assassin. And he did a remarkable job. Damn, I loved that opening scene in the train station...
With Morricone at the top of his game, Leone closes in on the classic American staple just as civilization closes in on freedom under a wide, operatic scope of sweeping European grandeur. All hallmarks of the old fable are to be replaced (the good, the bad and the ugly) as the villain refuses the money, the hero refuses the girl, the man refuses domesticity all the while woman and society nears ‘round the bend.
3-4. Technically the meat of the meaning isn't much more complicated than the average western. But the presentation is so evocative and exquisite, playing on metaphors like the desert as sea (the promise of open, fertile possibility), the harmonica as a fragment of past sadness, etc. And these are layered atop taut, delicious tension and astonishingly tight shot composition. Those three hours just fly by.
I do not like westerns: Exhibit Z It sure does look and sound purty but its thin, basic story is streeeetched out beyond bearing to a near 3 hours, forcing us to endure endless shots of tough macho dudes strutting and posing in tough macho ways. The hammering insistence with which it tries to turn these assholes shooting at each into mythic, operatic grandeur is so god damn exhaustingly hollow. It gets a D.